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When do sponsorships make sense?

Bike month MiddendorfSponsoring events can be a smart way to use your public relations budget, or they can be off-target. Companies are always getting asked to support events by becoming a sponsor. But it should be a two-way street, benefiting both the sponsor and the organization they are supporting. Before writing that big check, here are a few things to keep in mind. 

  1. Make sure the sponsorship matches your mission. Middendorf Insurance sponsors Bike Month because they are interested in wellness. Hubbell Homes sponsors Anawim because it's in keeping with their corporate mission of providing housing for people in our community.
  2. Employee Buy-in: Do your employees support the organization you’re sponsoring, or is it the boss’ pet project? I’ve been to a lot of fancy dinners where the tickets have been purchased by an executive, but the seats remain empty because not enough employees have buy-in on the project. Why sponsor something if your employees are not passionate about it? Instead, look for an organization that everyone can support.
  3. Does the sponsorship save you money over creating your own event? If it would cost you less to sponsor than to create your own event, then you’d be better off just writing a check than running a whole separate event. Events have all kinds of hidden costs, like insurance, security and publicity that can really break the bank.
  4. Loss of productivity: Is the sponsorship plug-and-play, or is it going to require a big staff time investment? Be sure to factor in these labor costs, and the cost of lost employee productivity.
  5. ROI: Will your sponsorship provide a return on investment for your company? ROI does not necessarily have to be increased sales. Sometimes the goal is just increased name recognition with your target audience. 

Taking all this into consideration, many companies do use sponsorships as an effective public relations tool. Once in a while, re-evaluate all the sponsorships you've signed on to, and only renew the ones that make total sense for your entire enterprise.

Claire Celsi is the Director of Public Relations at Lessing-Flynn in Des Moines, Iowa.

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