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What Role Does Philanthropy Play Within the PR Industry?

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Laurin Bryant

Laurin Bryant

Special to the Philanthropy Journal

By Laurin Bryant

Do philanthropy and PR seem a bit counterintuitive? In today’s media savvy nonprofit environment, a multitude of foundations are proving that the two seamlessly go hand in hand.

Many innovators within the PR Industry have the foresight to align for advocacy, as made evident by events such as the ‘Leading Women in Media’ luncheon held in the spring of 2015 in New York City. The business roundtable was hosted by the New York-based David Lynch Foundation, with the participation of eight highly esteemed women within the media industry who have discovered the benefits of meditation in their own lives, and were eager to share the techniques with 500 professionals. Logo

Courtney Lukitsch, the founder of Gotham PR, was financially supported by the David Lynch Foundation as part of its annual fundraising initiative. Coming full circle, the PR practitioner inherently values the role that PR plays within the philanthropic community.

PR dynamos in New York actively also support vital organizations that include The Bowery Mission, devoted to providing help to the homeless and impoverished, as well as the American Cancer Society. The O’Hara Project, a marketing and PR firm specializing in integrated communication and media has granted a year of pro bono PR to The Adventure Project, a national nonprofit organization founded in 2010 to create jobs in developing countries. This association adds an invaluable service to communities by training citizens to become profitable entrepreneurs. Chosen via a 45-day open search, The O’Hara Project embodies what it means to pay it forward, capturing the importance of truly engaging within the community.

As philanthropy continues to play an expanding role within the PR Industry, it is advantageous for companies to position themselves as active members within their respective community, as good neighbors. By remaining involved and “present” in the community, business and brand entities also remain current in member’s minds. Furthermore, donating one’s time is indisputably one of the most beneficial things any individual or company can do.

In an article published by media industry giant Cision, giving back has been dubbed the “gateway” to countless effective PR campaigns. How is this activity measurable? The article underlines the four critical ways in which PR can support communities, from providing time to contributing expertise. When all elements flow in a cohesive manner, companies are spreading the word and generating buzz without even being consciously aware. Corporate philanthropy giving can be a “competitive advantage” to the companies who embrace it, as detailed in the Harvard Business Review. Using the formerly mentioned charities as examples, companies may choose to incorporate civic duty and shareholder responsibility. Binding these two philosophies irrefutably maximizes company potential both financially and socially as well as philanthropically.

Philanthropy in PR has become a part of the job description and will certainly continue to flourish. Many within the world of media and agencies are passionate about using their status to promote goodwill around the globe, both in terms of awareness and funding. Doing the right thing has the potential to yield invaluable results not only for your community but for business as well.


Laurin Bryant is an Account Executive at Gotham Public Relations, a global Marketing PR agency with expertise in global design and development, fashion and retail, plus emerging technology. Founded in 2002 in New York by Courtney Lukitsch, the firm now works in 25 global cities.

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