Earned media campaign increases regional visibility for Blue Ridge Area Food Bank

Client Goal: Develop a strategic public relations roadmap and messaging framework to raise visibility through region-wide media relations

The devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic have highlighted just how many individuals and families struggle with food insecurity. This heightened awareness both deepened and broadened the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank’s (BRAFB) network of partners, donors and volunteers. 

The BRAFB wanted to capitalize on this momentum, particularly as it faces unique challenges, not the least of which are attracting a younger volunteer base and maintaining community engagement in a post-pandemic world. To effectively address these issues, BRAFB partnered with The Hodges Partnership (THP) to develop a strategic public relations roadmap to support its forward-leaning operations plan that included a higher community profile. 

To start, THP outlined a research effort designed to inform that strategic roadmap. It included:

  • A combination of focus group and one-on-one interviews with internal and external stakeholders
  • Assessment of the Food Bank’s existing materials and research 
  • Marketing analysis of regional media  opportunities 
  • Industry/competitor analysis 
  • Secondary research 


  • A comprehensive PR roadmap that included a range of top-level strategic recommendations, suggested KPIs and a timeline for critical tactics
  • 158 print and online placements, including the Daily Progress, News Advance and Harrisonburg’s Daily News-Record 
  • 242 broadcast mentions
  • A 1,556% increase in media placements compared to the previous year

Why’d it work? 

Throughout the project, THP shared observations and ideas with BRAFB leadership to ensure the final roadmap was one that reflected the group’s collective expertise, ideas and aspirations. For these types of projects, this collaborative approach is fundamental. THP is not an agency that goes silent for weeks, only to come back with recommendations that do not reflect an organization’s culture or capacity. These routine, honest conversations engendered trust between both sides, ultimately leading to an ongoing relationship that continues to bolster BRAFB’s important work toward fighting food insecurity.