How To Reach More People Online With Your Photos (Maybe 20,000 Or So)

When an organization reaches 20,000 people on Facebook, generates 200 comments ORGANICALLY and increases event attendance by 170+, the only way it can be described is VIRAL.

Here is how it was done with one single hour of photo time (and some great PR planning).

Senior Neighbors, a Kent County-based non-profit with a mission is to serve and support the senior community, honored 16 community members over the age of 60 at Frederik Meijer Gardens.

Two goals were established by Senior Neighbors and their public relations team at COM 616:

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  1. Increase visibility of Senior Neighbors and its services
  2. Support ticket sales for Senior Neighbors’ inaugural 16 Over 60 Awards Gala
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As the creative was left to me, I decided that both a full body and a closer head and shoulders portrait would provide two looks. One would be more formal, the other more intimate.

I wanted images that each of the honorees family and friends would say, “You captured them exactly as I see them…”

Photography was scheduled during a “meet and greet” event hosted at Linear Restaurant and each honoree had less than 5 minutes in front of my camera (if that, as our time window was small).

The resulting images were something I was very proud to share with Senior Neighbors and each individual honoree.

See how the images turned out and read the full blog

Wealthy Theatre: Voice of a Community

When you think of theaters, what comes to mind? The Avengers? Long lines? Expensive popcorn? Community?

You probably associate theaters with big-budget blockbusters, with endless sequels and huge amounts of special effects. Theaters can and should be so much more than simply a place where we take in multi-million dollar studio productions. They are a place for people to gather and rejoice in a fun and artistic medium.

There is a reason why theaters are built with so many rows of seats. Films are meant to be viewed by many people at once, promoting a feeling of community. Wealthy Theater, located at 1130 Wealthy St. SE, has been more than an ordinary theater for over a century. It began as a humble live theater in 1911, later becoming a movie house. During World War I, it housed aircrafts instead of films. In the 1970s the theater was abandoned, but it saw its return in 1998 as a community arts center. This colorful history has only made the allure of Wealthy Street greater.

Wealthy Theatre is the venue for not only popular movies such as “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Die Hard,” and “Elf,” but also hosts improv groups such as River City Improv and the Pop Scholars. Also, it welcomes musical guests such as Joshua Davis and concert series from the Grand River Folk Arts Society.

We spoke with Sarah Vesely, the Theatre Director for Wealthy Theatre, and she had nothing but positive things to say about the Theatre. “Wealthy Theatre is unique in that it is a community venue. What that means is that our staff doesn’t curate the programming; the public does. Anyone can rent the theatre as a benefit of a

Community Media Center membership.” She said when asked what made the Theatre unique. Sarah is also concerned with issues of free speech and intends the Theatre to be used as a platform to increase people’s voices. She says: “Our goal as a collective with our parent nonprofit organization, the Community Media Center, is to continue to raise awareness of our various free speech platforms. We want our community and neighbors to know that if they have a message, we can help get it out there.”

Wealthy Theatre is a valuable part of Grand Rapids society and strives for excellence in achieving its goals of broadening the voices of its patrons. The work that Wealthy Theatre does is very important to the community because it is rooted in the community and shares the same values.

Make an impact with your dollar this holiday season

The average American will spend about $1,000 this year during the holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation. While more than half of Americans plan on shopping online and at department stores, only 23 percent of Americans plan to purchase from a local business.

Every holiday season is an opportunity to make a positive impact through spending. Our community is home to vibrant business districts filled with unique boutiques and restaurants, offering many opportunities to find unique and heartfelt gifts. Shopping local gives back to our community in many ways – supporting local entrepreneurs, business owners, employees, and families.

If you want to make a positive impact with your dollar this year, here are some ideas for creating a plan to shop local.
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nMake a list and check it twice

Be strategic about how you spend your dollars this holiday season. Before you hit up the stores, make a list of who you’re shopping for and what you plan to buy each person. Once you have a list, see if you can purchase any of those gifts from a local business. Chances are there’s a local business in the area that offers what you’re looking for – from housewares and clothing to books and sporting goods. Here are a few business directories to help guide your search:

— Local First
n— Uptown
n— Good for Michigan
n— Experience GR

Purchase gifts from local businesses

Now that you have a plan, it should be easier to tackle your local holiday shopping. Research shows when you spend $100 at a local business, $68 stays in your community, with those dollars going toward local taxes, wages, local supplies and more. Imagine if the average shopper shifted just a quarter their $1,000 holiday budget to local businesses — that’s almost $200 re-invested in our community! The impact can add up when we keep our dollars moving throughout our local communities.

Give a gift from a B Corp

Another way you can make a positive impact through shopping is supporting B Corps. B Corps are businesses that prioritize using their business to make positive social and environmental impacts. There are several local retail B Corps in our community you can shop, such as Athleta, Better Way Imports, Brewery Vivant and Gluten Free Bar. Don’t forget to shop B Corp brands like Patagonia. For a full list of B Corps, visit bcorporation.net/directory.

Make online shopping count

If you’re someone who prefers to do holiday shopping from the comfort of your home, you can still keep your dollars local. Check to see if your favorite local stores have an online store — they might even have holiday specials! Another handy tool for shopping with an impact is shopping through DoneGood, an online platform that curates gifts from mission-focused companies. 

Source local ingredients for your holiday feast

Don’t forget about shopping local for your holiday party or Christmas dinner. From local bakeries to butchers to locally owned grocery stores, there are endless options for finding ingredients for dinner, appetizers, treats and beverages. And if you don’t feel like cooking, consider having a local restaurant cater your dinner.

Every dollar you spend locally this holiday season counts. Shopping local supports local businesses and families by keeping dollars in our community. I hope you will join me in shopping local and intentional this holiday season and encourage your friends and family, too.