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Philanthropy Thought Leader Uncategorized

Triple Play to Propel Atlanta Forward

So what do these three things have in common?

  1. A Saturday morning breakfast of three cups of piping hot coffee with cream, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit and whole-wheat pancakes.
  2. An awesome day job as the vice president of marketing and communications for the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.
  3. An unpaid gig (after 20 years of volunteer service) as the president of PRSA Georgia, the nation’s second largest public relations professional education society, with 900 members dedicated to learning more about integrated communications.

Each of the three came together in a personal and professional way this past week when we gathered at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. You see, I don’t worry about where my delicious breakfast is coming from or the dollars to pay for it, but one in four Atlanta children do. That’s scary folks. No food, no energy, no learning. No learning leads to no high school graduation, no high school graduates lead to economic development issues, no high school graduation leads to no work force to fuel better jobs in the region. You get where I’m going. It’s one of the cycles we work so hard to break through funding provided by generous donors here at the Community Foundation.

So, the Public Relations Society of America’s Georgia Chapter decided to do something about this horrible statistic. We asked the Food Bank’s CEO, Kyle Waide, how we could help. And, he said he could use our storytelling capabilities to spread the word. At the Food Bank’s headquarters, Kyle addressed a capacity crowd of communications counselors, telling the Food Bank’s bold story about how to eradicate food insecurity in our region by 2025. And, how we, as marketing professionals, can help. Being hands-on at the Food Bank, seeing the shelves filled with bounty donated by amazing philanthropic individuals and businesses around the region, as well as understanding right mix of goods to feed a growing family for one week made the problem palpable, as did his smart lessons to savvy communicators.

As a child, I was taught that it only takes a spark to get a fire going. Kyle started a spark in our PRSA Georgia fire by sharing how they aim to saturate the region with their message. Their communications priorities include:

  1. Move the needle through public awareness, thought leadership and community engagement. Make the connection between strong awareness of the Food Bank as a brand to greater awareness around the challenges at the core of their mission.
  2. Focus on taking care of the people inside their circle, which includes 700 partner agencies, 25,000 annual volunteers and 30,000 annual donors. Utilize this vast network of ambassadors to build awareness and advocacy.
  3. Use storytelling to shift the narrative. Help contextualize the issue and, in turn, create a personal connection to the issue for those not impacted. It’s not ‘the other’ who is facing food insecurity, it’s our neighbor.

I tip my hat to my PRSA Georgia colleagues who put their smart phones down, their deliverables on pause, their ROI tracking of programs aside and did some results-oriented work for the region instead. In a 24×7 news cycle, that takes guts.

Elyse Hammett


By Elyse Hammett, vice-president, marketing and communications, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

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