Local nonprofits and small businesses that are too cash-strapped to afford advertising campaigns could clear that promotional hurdle in the days ahead without spending a dime, but it depends to a degree on how well regarded they are in the public’s eye.
Grand Rapids online advertising firm Adtegrity.com Inc. recently selected a panel of West Michigan judges for Operation Spotlight, a program through which one local small business and one nonprofit organization will be selected every quarter of the year to win an online promotional campaign valued at more than $20,000 per winner.
Winners of the ad campaign will receive help in art direction and creative for a display advertisement and insertion into Adtegrity’s online advertising system for distribution. Nominations can be made on the designated section of the Adtegrity Facebook page, which includes six rules for nominating a business or nonprofit. Other users can then vote for an organization by “liking” that post.
Then a panel of judges will decide every quarter which of the nominees are most deserving. Those judges include Diana Sieger, president of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation; Nancy Boese, business tools specialist for the Michigan Small Business Technology and Development Center; Rosalynn Bliss, Grand Rapids 2nd Ward City Commissioner; Chip Brown, senior vice president and publisher for Bibles at Zondervan Corp.; Executive director of Local First West Michigan Elissa Hillary; and local entrepreneur and business consultant Bill Holsinger-Robinson.
“The judges selected are a broad array of folks in the community, and I think we’ve got a good crew there,” said Adtegrity president and CEO Scott Brew.
Judging will be based on several key factors, said Brew, including the number of nominations and votes an organization receives, the need and justification for the nomination, and how the campaign can positively impact the organization. For more information on Operation Spotlight, visit www.facebook.com/adtegrity
“Essentially, what it boils down to is, is it a good fit for our services as far as having an impact for that organization?” said Brew. “We’re trying to be as open and fluid with the criteria as possible, so when the right things come up, we can jump on it.”
Adtegrity’s ad operations specialist, Andrew Kovatch, floated Operation Spotlight to senior management, who gave the initiative a thumbs-up, said Brew.
“It’s really not so much we’re trying to make this about being a commercial for Adtegrity; it’s more a way for us to do sort of a corporate philanthropy, but in a more meaningful way that uses the skill set of what we do for clients to have a hopefully larger impact in the community than us just writing a check and sponsoring an event in the community,” said Brew, adding Adtegrity has been in business since 1999.
“It’s more about giving back to the community. We feel this is a great city and we’ve benefited from the excitement and the culture right now, and we want to be a part of it.”
The criteria for businesses and nonprofits to be nominated is based, in part, on how good a job they’ve done earning the community’s respect, said Brew, adding that nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses will be judged separately.
“We don’t want for-profits and nonprofits competing against each other, so that’s why we sort it out,” said Brew. “And we have experience in our business working with for-profits and nonprofits. The thing I really like about this is, the businesses are not nominating themselves. They have to have fans nominating them. What we’re really doing is finding those small businesses where people have good experiences, and these guys deserve a little more promotion.”
And by for-profit businesses, Brew means Operation Spotlight would not focus on large corporations.
“Somebody could nominate Amway, but I don’t think that’s the kind of nomination, not the kind of organization, that needs our help in terms of free advertising,” he said. “The nominations we’re getting are for a children’s boutique or store or a hair salon — small businesses active in the community.
“In some cases, these companies and some of the nonprofits are not even aware they’re nominated,” added Brew. “We make them aware.”
At this point, Brew said Operation Spotlight has no expiration date.
“We’ll keep doing it every quarter until we decide it’s not working,” said Brew. “When we decide it’s not working, we’ll stop spending everybody’s time. We’ll listen to our corporate citizenship.”