For Andrew – On Public Relations and Community Engagement

This evening I received a comment on a blog post I did about the “My GR Six” contest currently going on in Grand Rapids:

“At least they’re doing something besides taking pot shots from your lazyboy. What an asshole you are. No wonder you don’t have any friends. Lol.”
– Andrew | Submitted on 2011/09/08 at 5:02 pm

Though it perhaps didn’t come through in my blog post – I think the My GR Six crew are a great bunch of people.  I like Beth Dornan and John Gonzales quite a bit and even attended a recent Grand Rapids Social Media meetup to hear about the inception of the project.

While I’d never deny I’m an asshole, I do take exception to some of what Andrew said – chiefly the idea that I’m not doing anything.  For example – after the less flattering entries were frowned upon I thought it would be great if they could find a forum.

The GsnaRk SixSo I thought of creating “The GsnaRk Six Competition.”  Some of the entries were really clever and funny and did a great job satirizing the cultural elements and foibles of our fair city.

I did all of the preparation for the contest but didn’t launch it.  What prevented me from putting it into motion was that I didn’t want to rain on the parade of the My GR Six folks.

You see, Andrew, the My GR Six creators are engaging the community as a way of promoting the brands the organizations involved.  That includes everyone from the chief sponsors like Amway and the Grand Rapids Press, to the donors of the prizes – all of whom share in the goodwill generated by this fun community activity.

These sorts of partnerships and events are common, everyday public relations practice.

They’re so common that I’ve actually participated in many of them myself.

In fact, tomorrow will be the unveiling of a similar PR-oriented partnership that I thought up and brokered between Grand Rapids Community College and the guys from Ice Sculptures Ltd. for ArtPrize.

Hopefully you’re sitting down when you read this Andrew, because I know how shocked you’ll be.

Here’s what is going on around the ice sculpture we worked with the Ice Gurus to create:

  • Randy Finch and Derek Maxfield and the rest of the crew are a fantastic bunch of people (as virtually everyone in the city knows given their frequent generosity and charitable contributions) and fortunately they have a strong connection to Grand Rapids Community College.  Both Derek and Randy share their skills with our students, and Derek is an alumni of GRCC’s culinary arts program.
  • Not only that, but both Randy and Derek have been giving generously of their time to help train Team USA for Le Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie (the World Pastry Cup); because of the reach of GRCC’s world-class culinary arts program, Chef Gilles Renusson (a professor in GRCC’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education and friend) is the coach of Team USA and has been able to give GRCC students hands-on experience working alongside some of the best pastry artisans in the world by bringing the tryouts to our campus.
  • As a result of the broad network of fans and friends that Randy and Derek have built, they’ll be able to help share their popularity with GRCC and give the college a unique opportunity to engage the community downtown at the BOB during ArtPrize.  We’ll be able to give demos, show off student work, hand out freebies, offer some activities and generally talk to people about how GRCC can help them reach their career goals.

Can you believe all that was accomplished from my La-Z-Boy! (Well, not actually – it was accomplished from my office chair which isn’t a La-Z-Boy but it’s still pretty comfortable).

Anyhow – thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Andrew.  If you’re free, check out the local Grand Rapids TV news tomorrow – we should get some pretty decent for the unveiling of the ice sculpture.

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