Pro Bono Work

Finding a Home for a Family in Need


I rarely do traditional, old-school media relations, but when I do, it’s for a win-win-win cause. Family in need? Win. Great story for reporters? Win. Feel good news for viewers/readers/listeners? Win.

The client: An Airdrie community group, representing a mom who has learned her two previously healthy daughters have a rare progressive disease and will eventually both be in wheelchairs.

The goal: Get attention for the family’s GoFundMe page. The money is going to be used to make their home wheelchair accessible. The home has been donated by an anonymous donor. 

My challenge is to separate this story from the stories of many other families in need. I choose to focus on the house. I mean really –who donates a whole house? This family’s story deserves attention on its own merit, however I want to be sure to present the element that is nothing like any other story.

Another challenge is timing. “appointment style” interviews at the convenience of the reporters aren’t going to work, because Shanna, the mom, is sensitive to pulling the girls out of school when they already miss so much for medical reasons. I decide to invite media to Shanna’s home in a one-hour window that is convenient for the family. I also invite the community group organizing the project, and the contractor overseeing the renovation. The contractor brings drawings of the new home. It is a one-stop Friday afternoon shop for reporters.


Excerpt from media release


Shanna’s sisters had surprised her with the news of the home, so I also produced a reveal video of this and provided it to media for use in their coverage.



In the end, I invited three TV outlets, two radio stations and three newspapers. All media outlets offered coverage except one of the radio stations. The story went on to be picked up by a number of websites and one national TV station.

All media outlets offered coverage except one of the radio stations.



Sample of media coverage Google results.


Of course, awareness doesn’t always equal action. My concern was whether the family’s GoFundMe page would see a bump after the news coverage. Within 24 hours, they earned $4000 and a number of offers from tradespeople for pro bono work. Considering my time invested to plan the event and shoot and produce the reveal video was about five hours not including the event itself, that is a good ROI. I will be producing another video and rolling out the social media campaign in the coming weeks.

Here is a sample of the coverage: