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Almost 20 years ago, prior to starting Allison+Partners, Scott Allison, Andy Hardie Brown, Jonathan Heit and I all worked at Connors Communications, a New York-based boutique public relations firm. I opened the Los Angeles office with Jonathan; Andy was in New York and Scott was in San Francisco. Connors was one of the leading dot.com communications companies that helped launch a few “tiny” companies people may remember, including Priceline.com, Amazon.com, Edmunds.com, MySpace and Nordstromshoes.com.
When I joined the firm, I hoped to differentiate some of its offerings from public relations, media and analyst relations to include entertainment, nonprofit and cause marketing services. Prior, I had spent eight years at another agency building a cause practice and developing a regional cause conference with San Diego American Marketing Association.
One day, received a phone call from David Hessekiel, the founder of the Cause Marketing Forum. David was launching his first conference at the Yale Club in New York. He shared his vision about bringing together major brands and nonprofits, sharing best practices and recognizing the best campaigns with something called the Halo Awards. I remember sharing with him my dream to do exactly what he was doing. In its first year, a little more than 100 people showed up with common interest and passions. And, an annual conference that I look forward to every year came to life.
Brands, including Hasbro, Ford, BMW and Nestle, attended that first year to learn more about best practices in cause marketing. There were also many nonprofits that wanted to learn more how to work with corporations. Back in the day, the focus was on partnership marketing and case studies of great campaigns.
Today, I love how the Cause Marketing Forum has evolved into Engage for Good. Cause-related marketing has truly become more of a marketing tactic than a deep brand strategy. I’m not saying cause-related marketing is bad or that brands and nonprofits shouldn’t do it. But, today the practice and the conference is focused more on how companies live their purposes and how partnerships with nonprofits help bring the company’s or brand’s purpose to life. Campaigns are deeper and the brands recognized as Halo winners (now the industry’s leading social impact award) implement programs that reach all of their target audiences internally, externally, supply chain, etc. Campaigns aren’t just transactional, they are deeper to include:
Now, instead of 100 organizations participating, you have thousands interested in purpose-driven strategies. This year’s lineup is exceptional with speakers from Qualcomm, Google, PayPal, eBay and nonprofits include CARE, Feeding America, Boys & Girls Clubs, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and so many more. As an ongoing sponsor, I encourage everyone to register now while there is still an early-bird pricing. This is a great community to learn and network with.
Scott Pansky is a co-founder of the agency and leads Allison+Partners’ Social Impact group. Scott has extensive experience providing communications and crisis counsel to education, corporate and nonprofit organizations.