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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Walking the walk (or riding the ride) . . . Charity, community service and construction marketing

On Sept.8, I'll be one of several hundred people participating in a 100 km bicycle ride to raise funds for cancer research at The Ottawa Hospital.  Frankly, while I'll certainly raise some money for a worthy cause and get plenty of exercise that day, the real story is with the business leaders and organizations who have made much more meaningful contributions to this initiative.

There are paradoxes here.  Robert Merkley of Merkley Supply Ltd. and Claude Des Rosiers of Boone Plumbing and Heating Supply are both in the building supplies business, though in different sectors (Merkley focuses on brick and masonry supplies, while DesRosiers works in the plumbing and mechanical spaces).  Neither are push-overs for business humility (you wouldn't be in business long if you couldn't effectively self-promote) but they aren't encouraging others in the construction industry to support this initiative because they expect it will generate more business, or more positive publicity for themselves.  They are doing it because they believe in the worthy cause.

The irony is that the more the business leaders genuinely commit themselves to community service without worrying about recognition for their efforts, the more recognition they receive.  They didn't ask me to write this blog posting.  I chose to do it.  They didn't issue news releases or brag about their contributions.  The hospital foundation, however, has recognized their contributions at special awards and recognition events.

The challenge is that to earn this level of recognition you really have to "walk the walk" (or, in this case, "ride the ride") with genuine, meaningful and time-consuming (and often cash-consuming) support behind the scenes, with sincerity and genuine effort.  This isn't always easy to do -- unless your business culture, personal values and priorities are aligned to achieve genuinely selfless goals.

Then, of course, you are recognized for who you are.  And I cannot think of many things better for a business's brand than to be genuinely appreciated by the wider community (and especially by employees, colleagues, industry peers and clients) that you are true community service leaders.

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