Publishers Clearing House Holds Give Back Voting

Direct Marketer Gets Facebook Fans Involved in Charity Effort

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Long known for its big cash prizes, Publishers Clearing House this year decided to spread some holiday joy by giving $25,000 to a charity with the help of its Facebook fans. Two runner-up charities will each receive $2,500.

The effort, called the Give Back, asks PCH's Facebook fans to get involved through online voting. "The Give Back was designed to address several objectives," says PCH President-CEO Andy Goldberg. "The first was to increase our engagement with our customers. At the same time I also had a desire to infuse our culture with a more direct involvement in charitable giving.

"The third thing we wanted to do was get our managers more involved in social media and to recognize the role that social media could play in the marketing mix," he says.

PCH launched the Give Back last month, asking its Facebook fans to vote on 10 causes: support the troops, improve education, develop communities, help the homeless, provide disaster relief, protect the animals, promote sports, enrich the arts, fight disease and save the environment.

"When we created the Give Back, we created a two-phase voting process," says Adam Smith, senior business development analyst for PCH. "The first phase lasted two weeks. … We received about 20,000 votes. Then we took the causes and looked at charities."

The PCH Charity Committee selected charities representing the top three categories -- Standup for Kids, which rescues homeless and at-risk youth, to help the homeless; the ASPCA, which helps animals, to protect the animals; and Operation Homefront, which offers emergency financial and other aid to families of service members, to support the troops.

Starting today, fans on PCH's four Facebook pages can vote for their favorite among those three charities. This phase of the Give Back will run four weeks. Fans who vote will be entered into a $5,000 sweepstakes drawing, which will be held at the end the voting.

"It is PCH, and so everyone is expecting a chance to win," Goldberg says. "We felt if we had a prize, it would make it more interesting." Goldberg says he's pleased with the effort so far and plans to continue it in the future. "We're really happy with the level of engagement that we've had from our fans," he says. "What I'm really excited about is that the three causes they selected are very representative of the larger PCH member base and what is important to them.

"I feel that we've accomplished all of our goals. We've gotten a really high level of engagement from our fan base. We got our leadership team involved in a charitable effort. And we're pleased with the charities we selected. So it's also been a really good thing for us."

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