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VOL. 128 | NO. 250 | Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Marketing Makeover

Two nonprofits win services from Obsidian PR

By Andy Meek

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Two Memphis-area nonprofits are six months away from a 180-degree turnaround in their respective public relations efforts.

Members of PRIZM Ensemble, left, and West Tennessee Veterans Home, right, will receive pro bono PR assistance from Obsidian Public Relations, center.  

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

West Tennessee Veterans Home and the PRIZM Ensemble music group have won six months of free PR and marketing services from Obsidian Public Relations as part of the firm’s yearly PR 180 project. The project’s goal is simple: At the end of the period, Obsidian will have helped two nonprofits achieve a 180-degree improvement toward marketing and publicity success.

Obsidian takes its pro bono work through the initiative seriously. The winners are treated like any other client of Obsidian, the roster of which includes Gold Strike Casino Resort, Kroger Delta Division and Southern College of Optometry.

Both winning organizations get about 180 days’ worth of marketing services based on each group’s needs. The previous winners of the initiative, announced this time last year, were the Fire Museum of Memphis and The Blues Foundation.

To choose the winners, Obsidian asked this month for nominations from nonprofits. From that pool, the public voted on who the winners should be via Obsidian’s Facebook page.

“Participants nominate themselves, and we do that purposely so that they already know what kinds of services and help they need,” said Kerri Guyton, Obsidian’s director of client services. “So, it’s not a supporter surprising them with a nomination and telling us, ‘We think this would be a great group for this.’

“And we treat the winners like our other clients. We do a communications analysis with them in the beginning and lay out a strategic plan, and they get reported to monthly with ongoing meetings. Some of them are surprised and think this was going to be a side project for us, but no – they get added to our roster. And we’ll do this again next year.”

Obsidian, she added, wants the project to be seen as something nonprofits can look forward to every year. The firm got more than 1,700 votes over two rounds of voting, and representatives of both winning institutions had similar responses.

Leaders of both groups said they were lucky and feel that Obsidian’s help can elevate work that each group sees as important.

“We are extremely excited to be working with Obsidian as one of the winners of Obsidian’s PR 180 initiative,” said Lecolion Washington Jr., PRIZM Chamber Music Festival founder and director and assistant professor of bassoon at the University of Memphis. “It’s wonderful to know that there are companies like Obsidian that show a commitment to supporting nonprofits in Memphis, and we’re blessed to be working with them. We look forward to giving our community an opportunity to learn more about what the PRIZM Ensemble has to share.”

West Tennessee Veterans Home is looking for help communicating its mission of building a home that provides veterans with long-term care and rehabilitation services. According to group president Holly Swogger, $23 million in local funding and 25 acres of land are needed for the project.

“When we say we want to build a veterans home, most people misunderstand, and the majority believe we already have one,” Swogger said. “The veterans home that is needed is a highly skilled nursing facility that is dedicated to providing veterans with the long-term care and rehabilitation services they have earned and deserve.

“There’s no such facility in Shelby, Fayette or Tipton counties. The closest one is in Humboldt, 100 miles away. Our area has the largest number of veterans in the state of Tennessee, and we believe Obsidian can help us deliver the proper message to the business and general community and help generate the necessary support.”

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