You may have heard that building a strong relationship and close ties with residents and other businesses in your community can have a large impact on your business—a positive one. This is very true! Many companies look for ways that they can interact with local organizations and individuals to help support important efforts that will help benefit everyone involved and encourage others to support their cause.
This type of “relationship” is often referred to as community relations. What are the benefits of community relations? Primarily, it can be used as the foundation for building your business’ reputation and to create mutually beneficial relationships. Many businesses have community relations programs put in place or create a position to help portray the “voice” of the company and showcase its many attributes.
Here are a few benefits that community relations can provide your company:
- Cultivate partnerships, trust, and loyalty with other businesses
- Create a positive image for customers and/or clients
- Enhance reputation
- Attract new employees and retain existing ones
- Create relationships and personable interactions with residents and officials (local, government, etc.)
- Showcase interest and/or concern on community issues
- Encourage volunteerism in the community
When implementing a community relations plan into your strategy, you’ll first want to define your target industry. A great way to start is to create a list of the organizations that are within a 15 to 20-mile radius from where your company resides. This will help you target who, what, and where you should coordinate your next community relations initiative. Next, ask yourself who would be most impacted by your efforts? For example, if you are a veterinary clinic looking for areas where you and your employees can give back, you may consider hosting a fundraiser in partnership with a nearby animal shelter to support animals in need. Initiatives can range from a small gathering of individuals or it can be a large-scale event depending on the nature of the cause or goal.
For any community relations initiatives your business participates in, remember to share your efforts with your audience. You could feature a different employee(s) each month for his or her efforts in the community or highlight how your team helped tackle a project in your local neighborhood. Distribution channels can include social media, your blog, a weekly or monthly newsletter, or local news stations (including online publications). This type of promotion will help showcase all of the positive work your company is doing that will have a lasting impression.