Mobile Loaves & Fishes
Fifteen years ago Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a nonprofit organization that serves homeless people, was a small and unknown organization with two employees, one of which was passionate and visionary founder Alan Graham. Five years later, due in large part to successful public relations initiatives, MLF had grown to eight employees in six cities, had the largest number of volunteers of any nonprofit in Austin, and served its one-millionth meal.
National media including The New York Times and National Public Radio
Brenda Thompson Communications employed many strategies to build the reputation and expand Mobile Loaves & Fishes, which provides food and dignity to homeless people on the streets from specially-designed catering trucks, and lifts chronically homeless people off of the streets and into supported mobile home communities. Media relations was a primary strategy, and we achieved media coverage included national stories in the New York Times and on National Public Radio, and local coverage included several front-page stories in the Austin American-Statesman and a continuing drumbeat of coverage in other local publications, radio, and television. Through developing relationships with reporters and editors, Thompson helped MLF founder Graham become a recognized and quotable source whenever the media’s attention turned to issues of homelessness.
Partnerships with celebrities, public officials, and donors
Public relations efforts also supported the organization’s fundraising and volunteer recruitment efforts, and contributed to doubling the attendance and money raised at the annual fundraising event.
Brenda Thompson Communications developed and leveraged dozens of partnerships with celebrities including then-Governor Ann Richards and actress Sandra Bullock, local businesses like Stubb’s Barbecue, major donors, and complementary nonprofit organizations. PR also helped the organization develop goodwill with local elected officials, which was important in convincing the city to support Mobile Loaves’ plan to develop a homeless “campus” on city property (the land has been acquired but the project is still pending). Brenda Thompson also recommended MLF’s initial social media strategies, including starting a blog and adding interactive features to the website.
To this day, Graham credits public relations with helping to make Mobile Loaves & Fishes the extraordinarily successful organization that it is today.