Marketers learned a lot from consumers during COVID-19 that should be employed going forward. One valuable lesson is that many consumers expressed strong feelings that brands needed to support their employees during COVID-19. Another, which was reported in an earlier article, is that consumers, especially Gen Z, expect brands to demonstrate a connection and commitment to their communities.

Opportunities

For some industries, it’s not difficult to identify and find community groups that share the same values as a brand. Food-related businesses, for example, often partner with food banks and community kitchens, while renewable energy brands collaborate with environmental groups.

For others, it takes a bit of homework to find a potential good fit. Sometimes, partnerships aren’t forged by similarities between products and consumers, but shared interests and goals. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for example, focuses on inequality even though Gates’ business roots are in software.

Apps

Unlike the social scene, there are no apps to help introduce brands interested in identifying and meeting like-minded community or nonprofit groups. There are, however, calendar apps like Chase’s and National Day Calendar that list multiple national events for every day of the year. They also invite new submissions which opens up the opportunity for a brand/nonprofit partnership to inaugurate and launch a new event.

There are also specialty calendars like Cause Awareness & Giving Day for Nonprofits. Brands that market to seniors can access calendars like AARP’s. Those that sell to teens have calendars like TeenTix Events Calendar. Smaller brands and area merchants can also run a search for local calendars.

Another Possibility

Brands that rose from a small and humble start to rise and become regional or national favorites often have roots with community groups that assisted in their success. If the founder of the brand has such a history, he/she may jump at the opportunity to publicly partner with this group. The long-time history and loyalty between the two will be invaluable especially if it results in opening bigger doors to the group’s national affiliate.

Next Steps

Once a potential partner has been identified, the hard work begins. The major area of mutual interest has already been identified but much has changed since the pandemic. Many brands and nonprofits have witnessed declines in their revenue and audiences.

Brainstorm together to best determine how each can assist one another. Re-examine where each wants to be in two, three, or four years. Are there any new and innovative roads that can be taken to accelerate recovery? What other things might be done to heighten publicity, sponsorship value, and participation? Are there any new partners who might be recruited?

Move Forward Together

With the new information gathered, agree on a mutual path forward that includes agreement on what the new partnership looks like. It should include any revised roles, responsibilities, goals, expectations, communications, and a strategic plan with timelines. Because of the rapidly changing post-pandemic environment, it will be important to monitor, measure and meet regularly to assess and possibly make changes to the strategic plan.

“Our success has really been based on partnerships from the very beginning.” Bill Gates

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.