National Braille Press, a Boston-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting literacy among blind children through Braille printing and publishing, sought assistance coordinating and promoting their annual fundraising event, the Hands On! Gala. The organization needed to ramp up their fundraising, differentiate the gala from the many charitable fundraisers in Boston and to secure participation by top business and community leaders in Boston.
O’Neill and Associates was retained in both 2006 and 2007 to secure noteworthy honorees, recruit high-profile participants, and create a comprehensive regional and national public relations campaign to raise awareness of their issue and increase gala attendance. The campaign included:
- Creation of a media partnership with Boston Common Magazine, which resulted in the magazine hosting and coordinating a VIP after-party;
- Securing a media sponsorship of WHDH TV Ch. 7 which provided a television news anchor to emcee the beginning of the gala program;
- Issuing a series of press releases during the months leading up to the event, touting details about the event and organizational milestones; and
- Development of photo-ops and other events to generate media coverage of the organization and event.
- Securing high-profile master of ceremonies, emcee, event co-chairs, and key corporate sponsorships that would draw media attention and attendance;
- Augmenting the invitation list to include high profile Bostonians and working to ensure attendance; and
- Securing donations to be used as auction items.
As a direct result of O’Neill and Associates efforts, First Lady Laura Bush agreed to be the honoree in 2006 and Tonight Show host and comedian Jay Leno served as emcee in 2007. The participation of these nationally renowned figures boosted the profile of the organization and event and significantly enhanced media relations and fundraising efforts. In 2007, the fundraising efforts exceeded the nonprofit’s goals, raising a total of $1.4 million.
O’Neill and Associates secured local television anchors to participate in the program and Boston-area CEOs to chair the event. In both 2006 and 2007, O’Neill and Associates’ work lead to multiple high-dollar auction items including a Cadillac CTS, a rare set of signed Harry Potter books, VIP packages for the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and New England Patriots, and a trip for four to visit the Tonight Show in Los Angeles courtesy of Jay Leno and JetBlue Airlines.
Media coverage before and after the Galas appeared in the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, USAToday, and United Press International, as well as on New England Cable News (NECN), and FOX News. In 2007, a photo-op O’Neill and Associates orchestrated was featured in the Associated Press nationwide and appeared on the Reuters digital sign in Times Square during the weeks preceding the event.
O’Neill and Associates also successfully utilized new media to amplify National Braille Press’s message by creating a YouTube video to promote the event and earning mentions on several web blogs.
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