from pickett&associates … exploring PR, social media and entrepreneurship

Spreading the Love February 22, 2011

Filed under: Charitable Endeavors — pickettwrites @ 1:57 pm

“Random Acts of Kindness” became a popular concept a few years back, and it is a concept with which I was not unfamiliar. My parents instructed me from a young age to “treat others as you wish to be treated,” “don’t judge a book by its cover” and “it’s better to give than receive.” The latter not an easy sale to a 5-year-old, by the way.

As a result, I really try EVERY DAY to make a difference in someone’s life. Whether it’s sending an email that I think might bring a smile or helping a stranger in some little way, I like to reach out and lend a hand.

Last week, in the midst of generating content for the upcoming Health Care Heroes special supplement for the Indianapolis Business Journal, I interviewed a family whose story truly moved me … I must admit, first it moved me to tears, but then it moved me to action. Below is the result. I hope you’ll pass this along and consider coming out on March 5 to participate.

In the meantime, huge Kudos to client Randy Sorrell at Surroundings by Natureworks+ who did not HESITATE when I asked him what he thought of hosting a yoga class … and additional kudos to Heather Thomas, co-owner and teacher at The Yoga Center who, likewise, was quick with a “yes! Of course!”

Sunrise Salutations for Aidan Benefits the Aidan Brown Foundation

Aidan Brown

In May 2010, Carmel residents Michele and Chris Brown learned that their five-year-old son, Aidan, had Neuroblastoma. What would follow would be a parent’s nightmare of doctor’s appointments, hospital stays and treatments … but the one thing that made it better for Aidan was an iPad that a family friend had given him for his birthday.

And the one thing that made the experience tolerable for his parents was the outpouring of love and support of neighbors, friends, friends of friends and people they didn’t even know who offered to help. Such an outpouring prompted them to want to do something for those families not as fortunate.

In July, the Aidan Brown Foundation was established to raise funds to purchase iPads for children diagnosed with cancer in Central Indiana. In slightly more than six months, through bake sales and dance-a-thons and singing Valentines, more than $60,000 has allowed 70 Riley patients to receive iPads.

On Saturday March 5, Surroundings by Natureworks+ will host a Gentle Yoga Class between 9 – 10 a.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium during the Indianapolis Home and Flower Show. The class will be led by Heather Thomas, co-owner and teacher of The Yoga Center.   We ask participants to donate $10 that will to directly to the Aidan Brown Foundation. In addition, Randy Sorrell, owner of Surroundings by Natureworks+ will provide every attendee with a ticket to the Indianapolis Home & Flower Show.

Please, bring your own yoga mat and join us for a peaceful way to start a Saturday morning and continue the love and blessings of the Aidan Brown Foundation.


A Billion Reasons for Charitable Giving August 9, 2010

Filed under: Charitable Endeavors — pickettwrites @ 8:23 am

Once upon a time, in the early 1990s, I was editor of a publication called The Indianapolis Register , a monthly “tabloid” that concentrated on the philanthropic and volunteer community of Indianapolis. I was the publication’s first editor under publisher and Indianapolis philanthropist Lorene Burkhart. I would hyperlink you to it, but, alas, it closed its doors long ago … and long before publications had a presence on the internet.

Nonetheless, I learned some valuable lessons during the two years I spent there, but the most important thing I learned about was the giving spirit of Indianapolis, in terms of both time and money. I witnessed volunteer efforts that raised six figures with a single event; I talked to people who had donated huge sums of money to local organizations but preferred to remain anonymous. And I saw those efforts come to life in the faces of those for whom the benefits meant the difference between destitute and self-sustaining. Despite recent economic challenges, this giving spirit continues, though certainly not at the enthusiastic pace we once enjoyed.

I find philanthropy fascinating to study; to my core, I believe that a giving spirit is that which sets humans apart from other species. While philanthropy is most often associated with the “rich and famous,” you don’t have to be monetarily wealthy to have a giving spirit. To the contrary, great things happen a dollar at a time with the right direction.

However, when the “rich and famous” step up and make a commitment, it is always newsworthy. Last week a stop-the-presses story made its way to mainstream media: Forty of the wealthiest families in America had committed to returning a majority of their wealth to charitable causes by taking “The Giving Pledge.” The project was kicked off six weeks ago by Warren Buffett along with Bill and Belinda Gates; the trio has set about contacting their peers to encourage a substantial giving commitment.

According to the press release: “The Giving Pledge is an effort to help address society’s most pressing problems by inviting the wealthiest American families and individuals to commit to giving more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes. The pledge is a moral commitment to give, not a legal contract, and it does not involve pooling money or supporting a particular set of causes or organizations. While it is specifically focused on billionaires, the idea takes its inspiration from other efforts that encourage and recognize givers of all financial means and backgrounds.”

The news of the event was widespread – from CNN and Forbes to MSNBC. Perhaps Michael Bloomberg can be credited with the best quote: “It doesn’t make sense to leave everything to my children and have them go through life as members of the ‘lucky sperm club.’” Of course SOMEONE has to act as a “Debbie Downer,” and to that extent the Wall Street Journal was quick to point out that the rich typically give to the rich via large donations to universities, art museums, etc. However, many of the philanthropists on the list, including Gates himself, have a track record of reaching out to those who are far from elitist.

Of course, it’s not a bad public relations ploy – then again, it becomes extremely BAD public relations if they don’t follow through with their pledges. Like ANY cause marketing effort, the original intent must be grounded in altruism. To create an event solely on the hope of garnering some “good PR” is recipe for disaster at worst and disappointing earned media at least.

How do you give back to your community? I’d love to hear as we begin this second week of August – a week full of exciting meetings and potential opportunities.


Harvest of the Idea Garden July 28, 2010

Filed under: Charitable Endeavors,Entrepreneurial Tales,Social Media — pickettwrites @ 12:09 pm

Goods from the Garden

This blog reminds me of harvesting my garden … a little of this and a little of that … I have found the most interesting bunch of snippets for a blog during the course of the last 24 hours, that I’m just going to throw them all in one and call it the “Wednesday basket of goodies.”

Quote of the day from the Governor of New Jersey to Matt Lauer on this morning’s Today Show: “An $11 billion deficit, and I have to worry about Snooki and The Situation. There’s only so much a man can take.” This in reference to the “reality show” Jersey Shore … The Garden State is NOT amused evidently. And the governor is perfectly okay to find some other way to encourage tourism.

From NPR yesterday, “A Novel Approach: Free Books for Donations”  provided a fascinating concept from Concord Press. They print books, give them away for “free” with one caveat, according to Stona Fitch, founder:  “We just ask people, one, make a voluntary donation to a charity or person in need; two, chart your donation on our website,” Fitch says. “And three, pass the book along to someone else so that this project keeps going.” In the last two years, Fitch says readers have donated more than $142,000 to charity. A FASCINATING thought and an “out of the box” approach to fundraising.

FedEx has reached out to the Gulf Coast in a unique way. They have enlisted a convoy of their temperature controlled trucks and dubbed them the “Gulf Coast Turtle Rescue Team.” It is a GREAT example of how being a good community citizen FIRST fans the positive word-of-mouth effects of social media SECOND that ends up in the TRADITIONAL MEDIA (NBC Nightly News) THIRD. In that order. FedEx didn’t do it to “get in the news” … they did it for all the right reasons. Check out the links — good stuff!!

For those who do “sneaky reconnaissance” via Facebook, you are still safe: A new “app” was all the rage yesterday touting “See Who Viewed Your Facebook Profile!” As I suspected, it’s been taken off the Facebook apps by this a.m. and warnings abound. Do NOT download this …

And finally, apologies for a broken link on Pickett&Associates yesterday (btw, thanks to all who have “liked” me 😉 )that lent a big icing salute to CUPCAKES. I LOVE cupcakes (who doesn’t?) like millions of other Americans. They are all the rage and even the subject of a reality show on TLC. This post from DailyWorth (an awesome eNews re: women’s financial health) had GREAT advice about launching one’s own business.

Cupcake Empire on Fire

Lines around the block! A new tell-all TV series! Is Snooki dumping her poof? Did Lindsay make parole?

No, but Georgetown Cupcakes—the hot bake shop started by two sisters in Washington—just hit the big time with

DC Cupcakes“, a six-part series on TLC this month.

DailyWorth asked entrepreneurs Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis to share their thoughts on making sure your business has the right ingredients.

Flex your plans.
“Don’t start with some 30-page business plan—it’ll be extinct in the first year,” says Sophie. “Map out the critical stuff, like your financial model. But let accidents happen. We opened on Valentine’s Day 2008, with pink boxes. When we tried to switch to white boxes—which were a lot cheaper—our customers wanted the pink boxes back. So it became part of our signature.”

Start small, think big.
“We had a dream of opening a bake shop, but we started out with what we could afford, not this huge space,” says Katherine. “But we were also prepared to grow quickly, if we had to. I think you have to be conservative in your forecasting, but be able to scale up quickly and take advantage of momentum.”

Prepare to fail.
“We knew that half of all restaurants and food businesses fail in the first year. You have to ask yourself, Would you be OK starting over? You have to feel emotionally and financially secure with the level of risk you’re taking.”

Work it.
“Running your own business is 24-7, it’s nothing like the amount the work you do in a job. It’s always on your mind. Be prepared to work hard.”

Bottom line
“It’s worth it,” both sisters say. “If you have a dream of starting your own business, we say, Do it! You don’t want to spend your life wondering, What if…?”

Check out “DC Cupcakes” on TLC this Friday, July 30.

That’s all folks … stay shady today (in a “cool” way, not a “sinister” way!)