Making a Difference

Those who have taken a close look at my home page or my business card immediately note the “tag line” I’ve chosen for my business — “Connect, Communicate, Change the World.”  This is my way of letting people know that in my work in the public relations field, I like to place an emphasis on projects that make a difference in the lives of others — helping those with empowering ideas connect with a wider audience, and coaching those working with non-profit groups on ways to shape their message for maximum impact.  Over the years, as I’ve sought out projects of this kind, I’ve see how various businesses and individuals in a variety of sectors have made time and a public commitment to supporting various causes and projects.  I’ve also noted how this work has proven to be a valuable way to shape their public identity.

During my time with CBS News – thanks to a conversation with a stranger at a restaurant in Santa Monica, California one evening — I became aware of the wonderful work done by a great non-profit organization called Communities In Schools.  Founded by an inspiring educator I now call a friend, Bill Milliken.  In 1960, when many of his peers were joining the Peace Corps and going overseas to help those in impoverished nations, Bill chose to stay here in the U.S. and help encourage young people in the inner city stay on track with their education and resist dropping out.  During the years when I was more actively involved with the great work being done by CIS, I noticed that Office Depot, the national retail chain offering office supplies, had taken action (and gone to great expense) to make sure that all schoolchildren participating in this organization’s nationwide work had backpacks and office supplies as a new school year got underway.


This same generous spirit is at the core of another great company, one with headquarters right here in Connecticut – Newman’s Own, purveyors of delicious popcorn, lemonade, salad dressing and many other packaged food products.  While I was producing stories about entrepreneurs for CNN, I had the pleasure of visiting Nell Newman, daughter of the great actor and the executive in charge of the food company’s line of organic food products — including chocolate and cookies — and an outspoken advocate for natural farming methods and food that is untainted by additives and chemicals.  Since the company was founded in 1982, Newman’s Own has given 100% of its after-tax profits (more than $400 million) to a variety of important charities — most notably, The Hole in the Wall Gang camps for terminally ill children.  (It was a thrill working with Paul Newman himself during my time with Good Morning America, and I’m sure that he was well aware of the enduring legacy of the company he created.)

I’m also inspired by individuals who have taken action to help others, of course.  One friend who deserves special appreciation for making service to others a continuous part of his life, year in and year out, is Marc Ensign, a very talented website designer and internet marketing expert.  (Marc and his team designed my website, by the way!)  In addition to participating in an ambitious 270-mile bike trek from Boston to New York to raise money for ALS Research, Marc also recently launched an anti-bullying crusade called The Pretty Ugly Project.  I encourage you to take a look at the website that Marc has created for this important project that will surely spare many children from the cruel bullying that has become so commonplace these days.

Now that I’ve offered a few examples of the good deeds being done by others — from major national retail chains to one caring individual — it’s your turn.  What are you doing (or going to do) to make a difference in the lives of others?  From the perspective of one in the public relations field, I can promise you that not only will you feel great satisfaction in whatever project you choose to undertake, but the fact that you are the kind of person who is dedicated to helping others will not go unnoticed.  And isn’t that what “public relations” is really all about?