A few weeks ago I learned about a really cool entrepreneur who combined what she knows as a licensed mental health counselor and what she learned as a reformed shopaholic. Jennifer Melnick Carota became an expert source on smart shopping and charitable giving. Best known for her role as the Gift Therapist, Jennifer is famous for her gift giving advice, new product reviews, and annual holiday gift guide. Products and services that meet her high standards for quality, affordability and creativity receive her endorsement in the form of the Gift Therapist’s Seal of Approval. It was through her holiday gift guide that we first became acquainted and it is her hard, hard work that convinced me to include her in a Q&A here.
In addition to her role as the gift therapist, not surprisingly she also created The Black Pants Project, which “aims to encourage, inspire, and mentor struggling women who are planning to enter or re-enter the workforce. Run solely by volunteers, this timely program provides free wardrobe essentials and specialized coaching services designed to empower women along the path to self-sufficiency with confidence, style and grace.” Jennifer knows that looking good means feeling good, which is key in the interview process. But not everyone looking for a job has the dough to buy the clothes that often matter.
So how does The Black Pants Project get the word out and what can we learn from Jennifer’s success? Here’s part two of my interview with Jennifer:
Leslie: Can you tell us about any successful media hits you’ve garnered?
Jennifer: In order to garner support for this project, I knew I had to be creative but frugal. Social networking seemed to make the most sense, as I have had previous success with this technique in my private enterprise. Through my work as The Gift Therapist, I posted a query on an online newsletter requesting donations for an upcoming fundraiser on behalf of the Black Pants Project. Within one hour of posting, I had over 100 responses from companies and individuals all across the US who wished to contribute to the cause. I also have a volunteer from Minnesota who is developing and managing our new Facebook and MySpace pages due to my online friends and networks helping to spread the word!
Leslie: If you were to advise someone interested in developing a successful PR strategy for a nonprofit like the Black Pants Project, what would be your top three pieces of wisdom?
Jennifer: My top three pieces of wisdom would be:
1. Get online. Add social networking to your PR strategy and target people, groups and online communities where you can inform, educate and solicit support for your cause.
2. Have fun! Make your cause stand out from the rest by adding a little personality and warmth to your online outreach efforts. Be sure to use photos and video whenever possible. Don’t forget, people give to people that they know and trust. Be genuine.
3. Be so passionate about your cause that it’s infectious! If you are not passionate about it, find someone who is and let them have the freedom to be an ambassador for you.