January 1, 2013
"Movers for Moms" PR Campaign Spreads Much Needed Assistance to Women and Moms Living in Shelters on Mother's Day
By Jim Bucci
Lansing, Mich.-based Two Men and a Truck (TMT) is the largest moving franchise in North America with more than 200 locations throughout the United States. In late 2007, the company approached Lambert, Edwards & Associates (LE&A) to provide public relations services to heighten the moving company's reputation across the state of Michigan as the "Movers Who Care."
"We were charged with the program during the fall/winter of 2007 to increase media coverage and build the brand across the state of Michigan," explains Joe DiBenedetto, senior director at Lambert, Edwards & Associates. "The company had a charitable history of donating its time and services, so we decided to highlight that angle."
On the heels of 2007's success, the agency created and introduced "Movers for Moms," a cause-marketing public relations campaign aimed at educating local residents on domestic abuse and homelessness by providing critical assistance to women and moms living in shelters on Mother's Day.
"They had previously worked with Toys for Tots, but hadn't had much media coverage, so we wanted to develop a program that we could call our own," offers DiBenedetto, regarding the cause-marketing effort. "We also decided there were more opportunities on Mother's Day for media coverage as opposed to the crowded holiday season."
After three years of exceeding expectations and growing "Movers for Moms" across Michigan, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK challenged Lambert, Edwards & Associates to expand the program's reach from one state to 14 states.
The Strategy: Launch a cause-marketing campaign to shed light on domestic abuse and homelessness by offering assistance on Mother's Day. At the top of Lambert, Edwards & Associates public relations checklist was to secure shelter partners open to receiving "gifts" for shelter residents. LE&A identified and confirmed the involvement of well-regarded community women's shelters, such as the YMCA. In other instances, the agency developed shelter partners where the local TMT franchise did not have an existing relationship.
With the shelters on board, the firm enlisted media-friendly community partners to help ensure the collection of items, so TMT had something tangible to deliver to the women's shelters. Developing partnerships with local schools in each market also maximized collections and opportunities for media coverage.
To promote the launch of the "Movers for Moms" program and raise awareness for collection efforts, LE&A conducted extensive outreach to radio stations to arrange a radio partner in each participating market. Radio station partners agreed to run on-air mentions for "Movers for Moms" leading up to Mother's Day. A social media campaign included the development of Twitter and Facebook channels specific to "Movers for Moms" featuring daily updates regarding the campaign as well as news and stats relative to domestic abuse and homelessness in the communities in which the program ran.
In order to keep TMT franchises engaged, informed and enthused about the program, Lambert, Edwards & Associates provided weekly email updates specific to each location's efforts for "Movers for Moms."
The Challenge: Find an enticing angle to pique the interest of media members, while coordinating a campaign now national in scope. From a promotion perspective, a moving company exudes little of the flash, excitement or glamour to reel in media members, so Lambert, Edwards & Associates highlighted the cause behind the campaign.
"They are a moving company, which from a media standpoint is not the sexiest of material," says DiBenedetto. "We had to bridge that gap by concentrating on the charitable aspects and donating to the shelters."
The campaign's logistics proved challenging as well, as the program had grown from a regional one in Michigan to going national.
"The logistics were challenging, especially when you are working with schools and charities," offers DiBenedetto. "We moved from a statewide campaign to one including 200 schools and 100 shelters."
Results: "Movers for Moms" campaign scores huge success, seeks to expand across additional U.S. locations. In 2011, the "Movers for Moms" program resulted in 3,120 unique media hits, including print, television, radio and online. Media hits included interview segments in top 15 markets such as Atlanta and Phoenix. In total, the campaign generated more than 5.4 million media impressions and more than 100 million web impressions. Thanks to the efforts, TMT franchise locations collected more than 65,000 items to donate to over 50 shelters in 14 states last Mother's Day.
"The campaign generated tons of coverage, collected many items and built by word of mouth," says DiBenedetto.
Due to the campaign's success, TMT made the program available to all of its 220 franchise locations across the United States in 2012. TMT has also established a goal of 100,000 items collected for donation to women's shelters on Mother's Day 2012.
"The campaign has seen tremendous growth and from our standpoint, we haven't even scratched the surface, especially from a collection standpoint," explains DiBenedetto. "These shelters really depend on the program, so it has really become impactful, which makes the effort worth it."
Secrets of Success: Read on as DiBenedetto offers more tips and advice and explains why this campaign won Bronze in the category of "Best Education/Public Service Campaign" at the 2012 Bulldog Awards for Excellence in Media Relations & Publicity.
- Avoid the major holiday media crush by utilizing less busy ones. "Look to leverage annual holidays that are less crowded such as Mother's Day, Father's Day and Veterans Day," he advises. "Why battle everyone for coverage during Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas?"
- If launching an annual event, create a solid foundation first. "If you're building a collection campaign and hoping to make it an annual event, such as 'Movers for Moms,' don't be discouraged by how many items you collect the first year," he explains. "Focus on building a solid program with momentum for growth in subsequent years."
- Firm up your cause-marketing effort by engaging your local community. "Seek to develop community partnerships in cause-marketing efforts to strengthen community relations and word-of-mouth buzz," he offers.
Winner's Profile: Lambert, Edwards & Associates is a top-10 Midwest-based PR firm and top-20 national investor relations firm with more than 100 clients based in 20 states and five countries. As Michigan's only statewide firm—with offices in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit—Lambert, Edwards & Associates serves middle-market companies and national brands in five practice areas—automotive, consumer, financial communications, health care & technology and public affairs.