Lessons from the April PRSA Hoosier Luncheon

Written by Formstack on April 12, 2013

Posted in Webinars + Events

On Wednesday, Formstack had the privilege to co-sponsor April’s PRSA Hoosier luncheon alongside Bohlsen Group. While members of our team have attended these luncheons in the past, this was our first experience participating in the nonprofit roundtable-themed event. We also brought along two guests from the Indy nonprofit scene – Lucy Wehking and Martina Dean from the Indiana Blood Center.

The Event
The structure of April’s meetup was slightly different than most PRSA Hoosier monthly luncheons, where there is usually just one featured speaker. Nila Nealy from TwentyTwo started with a brief discussion of the “5 Don’t of Focus Groups” – which almost prepped each table for mini focus groups in themselves. After the presentation at the beginning, each individual table was paired with a representative from a local nonprofit. Each discussion leader presented a specific public relations issue found in the nonprofit world, and table members discussed specific causes and solutions for that issue.

The Discussion
Our table’s discussion leader was Brian Crispin, director of marketing at Wheeler Mission Ministries. Brian presented the issue of for-profit 5k runs competing with local running events for charity, like Wheeler Missions’ Drumstick Dash that occurs each Thanksgiving. Although the Drumstick Dash is a continually successful event, drawing in 18,000 runners in 2012, Brian hoped to discuss tactics that will aid in runner retention each year – because, unlike some of the for-profit runs that just come into Indianapolis for a day, the money raised from the Drumstick Dash helps feed homeless men, women, and children in our city.

Our table discussed possible solutions to this issue, identifying strategies such as more social media outreach, sponsoring running teams at marathons and 5k’s leading up to the Drumstick Dash, and emphasizing the charitable aspect of the run in promotional messaging.

The Lesson
Although Formstack is not a nonprofit organization, the underlying messages discussed at our table can be applied to any small/medium-sized business:

  • It’s not always about attracting new customers. Although it’s always great to grow your business, keeping your existing customers happy is just as important. To increase customer retention, it’s important to identify what sets you apart from your competitors and make those qualities known.
  • Bounce ideas off of strangers. With the exception of our friends with the Indiana Blood Center, no one else at our table worked for a nonprofit. This allowed us to bring a different perspective to the topics proposed by Brian. It can be healthy to discuss growth strategies with professionals outside of your industry. These discussions can expose you to creative business strategies that would have never crossed your mind before.
  • Always be aware of new target audiences. At our table, we discussed the idea of targeting upperclassmen college students or local campuses to draw in committed runners for the Drumstick Dash. While this wasn’t their previous target demographic, Brian acknowledged the benefits of building loyalty among this younger age group. While every company has to have a target demographic that dictates the way a product is developed, avoid pidgeonholing your company to cater to just one audience. Be aware of any consumer type that might benefit from your product.

As an organization who helps nonprofits collect and organize data, we also wanted to spread the word about our Build Indy campaign. We recently revamped the landing page to include free tools that help organizations identify and start using the best cloud computing products for them. If anyone is interested in downloading these free resources, visit the Build Indy page – no Indianapolis zip code required.

We were so glad to have attended Wednesday’s event with such awesome guests and co-sponsors. PRSA Hoosier members – what lessons did you take away from this event? How can you apply these nonprofit discussions to your company’s operations?

This post is part of the Build Indy blog series. Between February 20 and May 16, Formstack will be providing Indianapolis small businesses and nonprofits with resources and education about cloud computing solutions. Join us as give a $5,000 grant to an Indianapolis company. For more information, visit formstack.com/buildindy.