The most successful proactive PR efforts often stem from simple, easy-to-understand ideas. The core idea needs to be memorable and easy to explain, but from there, you can get creative and have some fun maximizing attention to benefit your company. The idea doesn’t even need to be yours. You can often still garner positive media attention and grow employee satisfaction simply by participating in a larger campaign started by someone else.
Having created proactive PR ideas for clients and employers for more than 20 years, I usually start by looking at a calendar of annual events. Examples would be Christmas, the start of the school year, Valentine’s Day, etc. From there, I brainstorm ideas for how the company can create a news story showing its involvement or actions around that date on the calendar.
Where it all began
Back in 2018, one of those brainstorming sessions stemmed from Veterans Day. Not to be mistaken with Memorial Day, which honors the fallen, Veterans Day (held every November 11th) is an opportunity to celebrate and thank our U.S. Military Veterans for their service. We wanted an idea that would recognize employees of the client who were veterans, but also be simple, no-cost and take only a few minutes for anyone to coordinate and complete.
Our simple, no-cost idea was to gather staff together and have veterans in attendance lead the rest of the staff in the Pledge of Allegiance. The company would record video of the recital and share it on its social-media channels on Veterans Day.
We took the idea to our client, Rosendin, one of the electrical-contracting industry’s largest employee-owned companies. They decided to try it out in one of their divisional offices on Veterans Day, so we gathered their local staff together, invited all the veterans to the front of the room and then recorded the group of 100 or so saying the Pledge of Allegiance. The entire event only took about 15 minutes, but the results were profound.
Everyone was surprised by the positive employee response — veteran and non-veteran. Many commented to management thanking them for organizing it. We then shared the video with local TV stations, resulting in a story about how local companies were acknowledging Veterans Day. The following year, Rosendin expanded the effort to multiple divisional offices from across the country, repeating the event.
Personally, I didn’t expect the event to affect me as well, leading it to become a personal passion project. In 2020, with the full support of the original client, we invited more of our clients to participate in the #VetDayPledge. We also decided to share the idea with other PR firms and companies and encouraged them to get themselves and their clients involved. As a result, companies, organizations, schools and individuals from more than 15 different states participated in the #VetDayPledge that year.
Everyone is invited to participate
Now, I’m encouraging everyone to participate in the #VetDayPledge, no matter who they are, and even requesting competing PR agencies to help spread the idea to their clients.
To participate in #VetDayPledge 2021, here’s all you need to do:
- Record a video saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
- Post it to your social-media channels on Veterans Day (November 11th) with the hashtag #VetDayPledge.
Feel free to include additional hashtags for your company and tag veterans you wish to thank for their service. The video can be as simple as you wish, and you’re welcome to record it using a standard smartphone. If you want to see examples of videos posted last year from across the U.S., go to Facebook or LinkedIn and search the hashtag #VetDayPledge.
For additional ideas on how you can implement the idea for your organization, visit VetDayPledge.com. In addition to some video or coordination tips, the site also include links to a template press release if you wish to put it out to local media promoting your participation, along with downloadable logos for the campaign should you want them.
No matter how simple or how orchestrated a company chooses to make its participation, the core purpose of the #VetDayPledge is to unite Americans around the simple message of thanking our veterans for their service. It is not intended to be partisan or political in any way. All are welcome and invited to participate, as the goal of #VetDayPledge is to have as many veterans as possible see a message of thanks and support.
Related: The Top 150 Franchises for Veterans
As with the best PR campaigns, we believe the campaign’s simplicity and flexibility will be what allows it to succeed and organically grow. I guess we’ll find out if that’s true on Veterans Day as you scroll through your social-media feeds and search the hashtag #VetDayPledge.