PR and publicity is an increasingly important area for any charity. In a world increasingly saturated with media it is ever more important that we can get our message across and let people know who we are and why we are here. We can now reach so many people, so much more easily than we could even just a few years ago, but the internet, social media and the traditional press and broadcasters all need content and its up to us in PR to provide that.
PR is always a bit removed from the front end of the charity, which is probably why most of us are also active riders, drivers or coordinators as well, and in itself PR it is not going to directly lead to more donations to the charity or more money in the coffers – that still comes from the generosity of of our funders and the hard work of our fundraising volunteers. But, and this is a big but, good PR can ultimately help with all elements of what we do as a charity. Awareness raising can lead to an increase in volunteers, hits on our websites, invitations to give talks, corporate sponsorships and help us develop positive relationships with the media both locally and nationally. Putting out our own messages allows us to tell the truth about the Blood Bikes groups such as that we are all volunteers, all highly trained and that we work out of hours in all weathers – as well as dispelling some of the negative myths about bikers.
Every time I am out on a Blood Bike now it feels more and more like people know who we are and what we do. From small actions such as free hot drinks in certain cafes, to nods and waves from police officers and paramedics, through to the large donations from our corporate partners, people want to help and be associated with blood bikes.
Good PR has played a role in this, but it is made so much easier because, despite many of us being middle aged and a bit flabby, motorbikes in general but Blood Bikes specifically are simply very cool. Success breeds success and good PR has seen Blood Bikes in the national press in newspapers such as the Guardian, on the National Geographic Channel, on BBC news programmes up and down the UK and in a range of motorcycle and trade magazines. Independent journalists and film makers are starting to approach us now as they too want to be part of the Blood Bike story and help us grow. As I said, we have become cool.
Don’t get me wrong, riding the bike, meeting people and seeing the difference we make always gives a quicker buzz than writing a press release, but I know that good PR and the friends we have made in the media as a result, is helping us help more people across the UK. And that can only be a good thing.
Simon Lee – Publicity, Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes