Introducing “The Phil” — a new nonprofit publication

Josh Dare is always about five years ahead of the times. He is also the “kinder, gentler” of the two founders of this agency.

Ok, some background. As an agency The Hodges Partnership has always had nonprofit clients on its roster. Working with nonprofits is part of our DNA not only as an agency but as volunteers and board members. Josh has always led that charge.

It was about six years ago that THP expanded it capabilities into content marketing. One successful project was the creating of a digital magazine for Swedish Match. Called Umgås (“gathering place” in Swedish), the magazine highlighted Swedish lifestyle and culture in the United States. At its height, THP created on average one piece of content a day and attracted more than 60,000 unique visitors a month to the website. 

Also, about that time we noticed the shrinking of media opportunities for our nonprofit clients. News outlets just didn’t have the time and space to cover them in depth anymore. 

What if?

Josh’s idea: Could we create a digital magazine like Umgås that could shine a light on nonprofit organizations in Central Virginia and provide an outlet to educate readers and promote good deeds?

Like all great ideas, we all were very excited. We tried to figure out how to make it work with our existing client load, figure out ways to at least break even on it, talked to potential sponsors, etc. After a lot of time spent, some good questions asked, and some but not great sponsor interest we ran out of steam. 

But we never forgot the idea.

Fast forward to, you know, 2020.

Meet The Phil

The impact of the pandemic on nonprofit organizations is staggering. The need for these organizations at a time of social reflection is critical. Telling their stories and championing their efforts is important.

Making this effort easier this time around is the talent level of young public relations professionals. We’ve noticed in recent years that the public relations students entering our internship program each quarter have been more “agency ready.” 

For a long time, my desire for the program was to not just have interns work on our accounts but for them to have a consistent ongoing project that would make the THP intern experience more meaningful for those involved. We also noticed that many agencies and companies were dropping their internship programs because of COVID and we were determined to not let that happen at THP.

My revamped thinking then was to resurrect the philanthropic digital magazine idea and have the interns (with help of a staff editorial team) create and run the website, write the stories, manage the social channels and grow the audience.

So welcome to The Phil www.thephilva.com, a new online publication that will showcase the work, mission and people behind the commonwealth’s not-for-profit organizations. The Phil will include regularly updated original content, including profiles of local nonprofit leaders, in-depth stories on organizations’ missions and challenges, and features on events and opinion pieces, among other articles. It will be intern-driven with THP staff oversight and will provide that missing outlet for area nonprofits.

We’re excited about the launch and watching it grow. You can follow on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thephilva and Twitter https://twitter.com/ThePhilVA and please tell your friends.

I’d like to give a special thanks to our Fall 2020 interns, whose hard work and dedication helped bring this germ of an idea to fruition: Anderson Hayes, Sara Huffman and Shayla Bailey.

Please Like and Subscribe

Most importantly if you work or volunteer with a nonprofit and would like us to consider telling its story please send an email at [email protected].

We’re thrilled to finally bring Josh’s idea to life, and we’ll update you in the coming month on its growth and success.

Jon Newman

In 2002 Jon cofounded The Hodges Partnership and has helped to grow it into one of the country’s largest public relations firms (based on O’Dwyer’s annual rankings). Jon has taught communications as an adjunct professor at VCU, speaks regularly at conferences and meetings and blogs and tweets about public relations and marketing issues.

Read more by Jon

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