Friendship Circle, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to provide every individual with special needs the support, friendship and inclusion they deserve, purchased Dakota Bread Company in the fall of 2020. The acquisition furthers the nonprofit’s mission of providing adults with special needs job training for full-time employment at the bakery or elsewhere. Dakota Bread Company is a well-known bakery in the West Bloomfield, MI community, and both the bakery and Friendship Circle have deep ties in the Jewish community, so it was a great fit. This was Friendship Circle’s first business acquisition, and the nonprofit faced the challenge of growing a business during a pandemic while integrating its mission into the overall brand. Friendship Circle came to Franco to support an important goal: build awareness of the bakery purchase and effectively communicate the mission/vision behind the purchase.
Our primary focus was creating an integrated media relations plan that would explain the change in ownership, assure long-time customers that the bakery was in good hands and expand the customer base among people who value the mission. We started by hosting a discovery session with the Friendship Circle team. From there we developed key messages surrounding the nonprofit’s foundation, as well as the background and reasoning for the bakery purchase. We also provided social media counsel on how to integrate bakery messaging and content into Friendship Circle’s existing content themes, including specific posts to amplify media coverage.
Specific program tactics included:
- Announcement: The first step was to introduce the media to Friendship Circle and announce its purchase of Dakota Bread Company. We combined an announcement press release with personalized pitching, including offering an interview with one of the nonprofit’s founders. Through this strategic and tailored media approach, Franco secured coverage with Crain’s Detroit Business, Civic Center TV, Detroit News, The Make Meaning Podcast, Metro Parent, Oakland Press, WDET-Radio, WWJ-Radio, West Bloomfield Beacon and many more. These interviews allowed for priceless media relationship-building opportunities, including developing many new relationships for the nonprofit.
- Events: The nonprofit hosted two in-person events (following COVID-19 safety precautions). The first was a ribbon cutting event with brief remarks from the Friendship Circle founders and notable supporters and families. This was held outside the bakery, and we secured onsite attendance from WWJ-TV/CW50 and WDIV-TV for taped segments, including interviews with an individual with special needs who would go on to work at the bakery. The second was a community drive-thru event where anyone could pull into the bakery’s parking lot and receive free beverages and bakery treats, as well as challah dough and a Friendship Circle car magnet. We conducted media outreach to get the event listed on calendars, and we secured the Jewish News
- Holidays and Observances: As Friendship Circle and the Dakota Bread Company have strong ties to the Jewish community, we reached out to media regarding the nonprofit’s challah bread, holiday happenings and more, securing coverage widely surrounding Hanukkah. Additionally, with National Cookie Day in December, we coordinated the storytelling of an individual with special needs and the “special hugs” cookie he designed, resulting in a live, onsite segment at the bakery with WJBK-TV/FOX-2 and a story in the Jewish News.
- Generated more than 50 pieces of coverage (in three months) across local and regional media in print, broadcast and digital outlets.
- Established media relationships with outlets previously unaware of or unfamiliar with the nonprofit and strengthened existing media relationships.
- Increased overall awareness of Friendship Circle’s purchase of Dakota Bread Company among key audiences.
- Friendship Circle provided anecdotal feedback on the positive outreach and comments they received regarding all the media coverage. They also noted a direct increase in bakery customers and sales as a result of media coverage.