Why More PR Efforts Should be Coordinated Around Veterans Day

Why More PR Efforts Should be Coordinated Around Veterans Day

My PR team is always looking for opportunities to draw some media attention to our clients for doing something positive.  As part of this effort, we often coordinate media efforts around various holidays and shared cultural events. Out of all the dates on the calendar, I never expected Veterans Day to become my favorite. Both because of what it represents, and the media opportunities it has provided our clients.

Veterans Day has long been one of those specialty holidays recognized mostly by those who have a personal connection to the military.  It’s not part of a three-day weekend, and people often mix it up with Memorial Day which honors the fallen vs Veterans Day which recognizes the living who have served.

My team took Veterans Day efforts to an entirely new gear this year, and I want to share what we did. Not to brag, but in hopes of sparking your imagination or participation for Veterans Day next year.

The Veterans Day Giveaway Idea

We have several HVAC and plumbing clients. One of those companies was founded by a Veteran after WWII, and the company is now lead by his granddaughter (3rd generation).  Five years ago, we launched a now annual Veterans AC Giveaway Contest where the public could nominate a Veteran or their family member in need of a new AC unit or furnace. After verifying nominations and choosing finalists, the public was given the opportunity to vote for the recipient, with the prize awarded on (or around) Veterans Day.

That single contest has expanded.  In 2020 we held the contest in five different cities spanning the U.S. from Miami, Florida to Spokane, Washington. Yes, the contest is a nice thing to do and it’s generated publicity and stories in each City we’ve done it. But it’s much more than a contest.

Our goal is to share personal stories of local Veterans and active duty members that most people never hear about. These are the men and women who left their homes, their families, and their friends to dutifully serve our country across the nation and around the world. Their stories are incredible. Like an Arizona man who joined the Army after the attack on 9/11 to protect our nation and came back with a life-changing injury from a rocket propelled grenade. Or the Florida man who joined the Navy at age 17 and got to take a newly commissioned ship through the Panama Canal. Or the woman who was the first female in her family to join, and now copes with the debilitating effects of PTSD.

In our eyes, they are all heroes. They all deserve notoriety.  So we share their stories using videos, blogs, social media, and often the news media will help us reach a wider audience. These stories have helped old friends reconnect providing them with a sense of hope and some comfort during an increasingly stressful time.

It amazes me how grateful these Veterans are to be recognized. I am also impressed by their shared bond. They understand what it’s like to be too far from home, and why it’s so hard to talk about what they experienced. We are saddened by how many suffer from mental trauma and inspired by how many of them volunteer to help other Veterans heal.

The other major effort we launched was the #VetDayPledge.

The idea started in 2018, when one of our large construction related clients was looking for ways to recognize their employees that were Veterans. We suggested that the company gather employees on Veterans Day a job site or in their warehouse and simply invite all the Veterans to the front of the group to lead their co-workers in the Pledge of Allegiance.  We used smartphone video to then share it with media and post it on social media.  The response from employees who participated was so positive that the construction company expanded it to multiple cities and job sites the following year.

This year, with permission from the client we decided to expand the idea to include any company willing to participate.  Our only request was that anyone who participated include the hashtag #VetDayPledge to unify the message and make it easier for others to see and hopefully participate on their own. In addition to sharing the idea with other companies (clients and non-clients), we invited other PR firms to share the idea and created a website www.VetDayPledge.com with free resources and tips for companies to do it on their own.

I’m so proud that during this campaign’s first year going national and mainstream that we had participants from 10 states!  While some videos came from our clients, the majority of the participants were not!  In addition to several businesses, an elementary school participated, as did a senior living community!

A Wisconsin TV station even did a news story about one of the participants. You can watch the story by clicking here!

We’re excited to grow the #VetDayPledge further next year and believe that without the election (and COVID) related distractions, even more businesses and organizations will participate.  This idea has become a passion project.  We love that it’s a simple, no cost idea that anyone can do to thank our Veterans and their families.

Ultimately, the most important thing for companies to remember when doing a PR campaign around Veterans Day or Memorial Day is to do it for the right reason. We believe that the VetDayPledge and the Veteran AC Giveaway Contest fit that purpose.  Sure, it might generate some positive publicity for our clients, but most importantly, it generates recognition for those who’ve served and sacrificed- the individual veteran, and their families alongside them.

There are lots of great ideas that companies are doing to recognize Veterans. Share them below and help us inspire others!

Video Series: Public Relations Tips To Get Through COVID-19

As the novel coronavirus has spread across the globe, business as we have known it has been upended. While we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, there are things companies can be doing to position themselves to withstand the pandemic, help the community, and ultimately come out of this crisis stronger.

Public relations can play a role in delivering on these goals. 10 to 1 President Josh Weiss has created a video series of brief videos to give you ideas on how you can best position your company utilizing basic public relations and crisis communications tactics.

You can check out our video series below or on our YouTube page.


PR & COVID-19: Share Your Expertise

https://youtube.com/watch?v=4rCj5Sf89oY%3Ffeature%3Doembed

PR & COVID-19: Find Opportunity for Every Story

https://youtube.com/watch?v=atS6Rv0KRDs%3Ffeature%3Doembed

PR & COVID-19: Walk Through Your Warehouse

https://youtube.com/watch?v=emdFN9dWdA0%3Ffeature%3Doembed

PR & COVID-19: Pivoting The Right Way

https://youtube.com/watch?v=pnpAuAJ82Dg%3Ffeature%3Doembed

PR & COVID-19: Follow The Leader

https://youtube.com/watch?v=3eroAMKpMNM%3Ffeature%3Doembed

PR & COVID-19: Be Honest With Your Customers

https://youtube.com/watch?v=E0drKp1XgoM%3Ffeature%3Doembed

More videos will be added on a regular basis – stay tuned!

The Public Relations Reason to Always Hold a Ribbon Cutting

Congratulations! You’re moving into new office or retail space! 

You’ve already spent a lot of time and money moving in.  For public relations purposes, you really should spend a little bit more to host an open house or ribbon cutting. 

Here’s the part that might surprise you:  the purpose and success of the event has zero to do with how many people actually show up to celebrate in person with you. Here, we share some common misconceptions and best advice around hosting a ribbon cutting event:

It Doesn’t Matter if No One Shows Up.  The event itself isn’t about getting people to attend, it’s about educating people that your company is celebrating a milestone. It’s an opportunity for free publicity to demonstrate how strong your company is and why they should hire or buy from you.

The Event Can Be Months After You Actually Move In.  There is no need to rush an event, as you can hold a ribbon cutting or open house as late as six months after you have moved in. It’s totally understandable to want to get settled in the new office first, but make sure to schedule and promote the event date early, otherwise you will never get around to hosting the event and the opportunity gets lost.

Invite People Who You Know Won’t Attend.  Invite people who live out of state or who you know won’t attend your event.  They’ll appreciate the fact you thought of them, and it will give you an excuse to remind them that your company is doing well and able to help them if needed.

It Doesn’t Matter if the New Office is Smaller than the Old One.  Almost no one will realize it if your new offices are smaller than your previous one. All they’re going to know is you’re excited about your new space and, instinctively, they’re going to assume your company is growing and expanding. 

Let Your Local Chamber of Commerce Do Most of the Work.  We often work with clients who aren’t members of the local Chamber of Commerce. When they move into new space, we always encourage them to join their local chamber- if only for the ribbon cutting. 

The initial response is often that they don’t want to pay the typical $500 to be a member.  I turn around and ask them if they’d pay $500 for the Chamber to promote your event in their newsletters and social media, invite their members to your offices for the event, coordinate with elected officials to attend and speak at your event, and to bring the ribbon and over-sized scissors with them as they coordinate the short ribbon cutting ceremony.  When they say yes, I tell them, great!  And guess what: you get a free one-year membership along with all that publicity and ceremony coordination!

Invite those Key People Who You Want to Thank for Their Support.  There have always been people in your corner cheering you on.  They may be family members, friends, mentors, peers, it doesn’t matter. They deserve to be thanked, and their investment in time to you was so that they can attend an event like this to celebrate your success.  They don’t care if the event is fancy, all they care about is that you’re going to be there and that you’re proud of what you accomplished. Don’t rob them of that opportunity.

Use Social Media Before the Event: Use your social media channels, both professional and personal, to promote your ribbon cutting event.  Create an event on Facebook and invite your contacts to attend your ribbon cutting.  Write a personal note thanking people for their support to help you reach this milestone.  Yes, it may be “humble-bragging,” but you’ll truly be humbled by the warm comments you receive and all the likes congratulating you on this milestone.

Use Social Media During the Event.  If you have a nice crowd, consider recording some video or sharing it live.  Invite attendees to say nice things about your company on the milestone.  Regardless of how many people are in the room, you can live-tweet the event.  Encourage people to take selfies or other group pictures in your offices and share them online, tagging your company in the images.

Use Social Media After the Event.  Share photos and tell everyone how successful your event was, even if it really wasn’t.  It’s okay if it only ends up being you and your staff at your ribbon cutting, have someone take a photo of the group behind the ribbon.Use the photo in a post-event press release or social media posts.  No one will know how many people attended your event- as far as they know there were hundreds of people.

Keys to a Great Ribbon Cutting Photo

  • Have the key company leaders in the center of the ribbon holding the big scissors for the photo opportunity
  • Have people you appreciate/want to thank hold the ribbon on either end so that it’s straight and not dangling—but pick the people purposely as they’ll appear in the photos, so make sure it’s someone you like!
  • Ask EVERYONE in the room to join you behind the ribbon.  Let the company people be up front but have 40 or 50 people in the photo as it makes you look even bigger and stronger. Someone looking at the photo won’t know that there was no one watching.
  • Pose a few photos with everyone looking up before the cutting begins to make sure you have some decent images.
  • When cutting, remind everyone that they need to keep their eyes up toward the camera and not watch the ribbon falling/actually being cut. You’ll dislike the photo if the key people are all looking down at the falling ribbon and it won’t look as good when shared on social media. 
  • Hire a professional photographer to capture the event. The only way to guarantee that you will get great photos is to have someone who knows what they’re doing take the photo. You’ll be using these photos for days, weeks, and years after the event, so it is worth the investment to have a professional on site to capture the event.

Ribbon cuttings and open houses are great opportunities for business owners and staff to reflect on how far a company has come, and to demonstrate confidence in the company’s future. Celebrate your milestone and allow others to celebrate it with you!