NACS Recognized at PRNews’ CSR and Nonprofit Awards Luncheon

March 27, 2018 - NACS was recognized last week at the PR News CSR and Nonprofit Awards Luncheon for its #ConvenienceCares social media communications efforts that it developed with the communications firm OTM Partners in partnership with Social Driver.

The #ConvenienceCares messaging highlighted the stories of NACS members (convenience retailers and the industry’s supplier members) supporting communities impacted by the hurricanes that hit the United States in August and September of 2017. NACS members across the country raised money, donated food and supplies, supported first responders and stepped up to help those in need.

The efforts also and raised awareness related to fuel supply and demand and promoted the NACS partnership with the Red Cross.  Factoring in a variety of donation points, the Red Cross has credited the convenience retailing industry with contributing more than $17 million in disaster relief related to the hurricanes.

#ConvenienceCares was shared at the NACS Show, showcasing a NACS Foundation video that highlighted the importance of convenience stores to the communities they serve. This theme continued throughout the year, including “Giving Tuesday” in November 2017.

“Our industry stepped up to the plate to help those impacted by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. It’s an honor to be recognized for our social media effort that highlighted their work. The real award goes to the convenience store industry for its ongoing community support,” said Stephanie Sikorski, NACS Vice President of Marketing and Director of the NACS Foundation.

Each year, PR News honors the top corporate social responsibility campaigns, and the brands and communicators behind them, at its CSR & Nonprofit Awards Luncheon at Washington, D.C.'s historic National Press Club. CSR Awards finalists represent the very best in corporate responsibility initiatives, with each campaign making a visible difference on the local, national or global level. A complete listing of honorees from the PRNews’ CSR and Nonprofit Luncheon can be found here.

World Waterpark Association’s Focus on Social Responsibility

By Lauren Wells, Account Coordinator, OTM Partners

June 28, 2017 - As a small child I was infatuated with water – but after a dangerously close call, my parents enrolled me in swim lessons at my local YMCA. I was one of the lucky ones – many “close calls” happen across the country on a daily basis. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, between 2013 and 2015, an estimated 5,600 children younger than 15 years old were treated each year in hospital emergency rooms for non-fatal drownings in pools or spas.

From that point on, water safety has been an important aspect of my life.  As a teenager, I worked as a lifeguard; as an adult, I moved on to the role of aquatic program coordinator.  During my career in aquatics, I spent numerous volunteer hours teaching swim lessons.

Working as an aquatics professional opens your eyes to the overwhelming number of children and adults who do not know how to swim.  Swimming is a life skill that is often overlooked because many people think swim lessons are an unnecessary luxury. Learning how to swim saves lives.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drowning is a major public health problem worldwide. From 2005-2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States.  Even more shocking, one in five people who die from drowning are children aged 14 and younger. Additionally, more than 50% of drowning victims treated in emergency departments require hospitalization or transfer for specialized care. These non-fatal drowning injures can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities and permanent loss of basic functioning.

The World Waterpark Association (WPA) is an international not-for-profit member-based trade association that serves waterparks, aquatic venues and spray parks of all shapes and sizes.  Since 2010, WPA has focused their social responsibility programs on a local level by organizing the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson (WLSL). The initiative is a global event supported by aquatic facilities, waterparks, pools, and swim schools.

The WLSL demonstrates “social responsibility” by reflecting the WPA’s dedication to positively impact its members, employees, the public, and communities around the world. The goal of the WLSL initiative is to remind the public of the importance of pool safety. The organization achieves this goal by leveraging the global aquatics industry’s willingness to build awareness about the importance of pool safety.

On June 22, 2017 the WLSL held its annual event in more than 20 countries over the course of 24 hours.  Here in our area, the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association and the Maryland National Parks and Planning Commission support the program. Every year, I volunteer to train and educate water safety staffers to ensure volunteers conduct effective—and much needed—swim lessons. 

The WLSL is a commendable initiative that ensures children remain safe around pools. This year TEAM WLSL set its sights on a new goal: to reach more than one billion people with the message Swimming Lesson Save Lives™ by 2019. 

The WLSL has a number of international and nationwide supporters including, the American Red Cross, Aquatics International, Pool Safely, the Michael Phelps Foundation and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Engaging For Good

June 4, 2017 - OTM Partners President (Read deButts) and Chief Marketing Officer (Regan Lamb) attended the Engage for Good (formerly Cause Marketing Forum) conference in Chicago May 31 – June 1. They left the event inspired and thrilled to be a part of a community of businesses working together to make a difference.

The Engage for Good conference helps businesses, nonprofit executives, and the agencies that support them succeed together by providing both information and inspiration, and opportunities to develop meaningful relationships. It also recognizes outstanding corporate social initiatives and cause marketing campaigns through the annual Halo Awards, presented at the conference.

Highlights of the conference include the Golden Halo Award for business, presented to Victoria Dinges, Senior Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Allstate; the Golden Halo Award for Nonprofit, given to Crag Kielburger, Co-founder of WE; Chief Purpose Officer at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Shannon Schuyler’s insights into embedding purpose into business; engaging break-out sessions; and most importantly, the opportunity to meet creative and inspiring people making a difference and engaging for good.

Victoria Dinges presented an overview of two of Allstate’s powerful campaigns – Good Starts Young and the Purple Purse Campaign. She shared that Allstate “believes in engaging for good" and that "corporate responsibility (CR) used to be a way to differentiate our brands; now it's table stakes.” Allstate is a great example of a company that is living its purpose, aligning its CR initiatives and delivering on its business while doing good.

Craig Kielburger is a social entrepreneur and the co-founder of a family of organizations dedicated to the power of WE, a movement of people coming together to change the world. According to Craig, “There is tremendous value in working with partners who understand that empowering future generations with the strength, confidence and skills to rise up as leaders will only make the world a better place. Engaging our cause-focused partners has enabled WE to grow and reach more young people, helping them make difference in their own back yards and in communities around the world.”

Shannon Schuyler, Chief Purpose Officer at PricewaterhouseCoopers and President of the PwC Charitable Foundation shared strategies for embedding purpose into employee experiences in a manner that yields measurable and meaningful business and social impacts. She shared that at PwC, purpose is their “north star” and that “we can't assume government and nonprofits are going to solve societal challenges alone.” Businesses need to take a stand and focus on their purpose.

OTM Partners looks forward to applying insights from the conference and helping our clients create sustainable corporate social responsibility platforms that make a difference. After all, CSR is not only good business; it’s also common sense. It is a business practice that everyone can get behind and benefit from. We call it a win-win opportunity for everyone.

Bringing CSR to Life: Fair Trade Matters

By Read deButts, President, OTM Partners

May 5, 2017 - On its most basic level, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the essence of being a good corporate citizen. It is reflective of how companies interact with their customers, the public, and the world. More specifically, it is about how they meet or exceed their ethical, legal, commercial, and public expectations/obligations.

The Fair Trade industry brings CSR to life. Fair Trade is a movement aimed at achieving better trading conditions, promoting safer working standards, encouraging environmental conservation, enabling supply-chain transparency, and empowering developing communities around the world to build strong, thriving businesses. In order to receive Fair Trade certification, artisans and farmers are carefully trained in sustainable farming methods, environmentally friendly production habits, and encouraged to engage in community outreach and education programs.

For companies, selling products that are ethically sourced or support a cause has become a necessity in the 21st century. A 2017 Unilever study shows that one-third of all consumers choose to buy from brands they believe are doing social/environmental good. Furthermore, the Fair Trade industry isn’t a fringe or niche market; it is steadily growing and, in 2015, Fair Trade products netted over $1 billion in total revenue. Big-name brands like Patagonia and West Elm are two examples of several hundred companies that have already realized the value in supporting Fair Trade and have begun promoting their commitment.

I first began to grasp the impact Fair Trade has on people and communities around the world after my wife opened Trade Roots—a Fair Trade retail business. We started to travel to developing countries all across the globe to meet artisans and see the direct impact Fair Trade has on communities that empower women, improve educational opportunities, and promote sustainable livelihoods.

In the last few years, I’ve had the good fortune to see artisan communities in places like Rwanda, Nepal, India, Guatemala and more. Whether it’s visiting Rwanda’s Cards From Africa or Hand Spun Hope—the on-the-ground impact socially conscious American consumers have is abundantly clear. At Hand Spun Hope, for example, a post-genocide widowed women’s group that knits and sells various hand-spun wool products, I watched as more than 50 women handcrafted the very same unique products I’d seen on the shelves at Trade Roots. Founded to help women learn a skill and earn money to improve their lives and the lives of their families, the work done by Hand Spun Hope has transformed into the pride of the community for these formerly ostracized women.

In my travels, I’ve seen how consumers react to Fair Trade products and how they feel about supporting artisan communities around the world; and after visiting those artisans, I’ve come to realize how valuable an asset the Fair Trade movement is to CSR initiatives and consumers alike. Fair Trade not only uplifts global communities and causes, but also it often helps maintain a way of life for indigenous populations.

Fair Trade continues to pioneer new social causes, invent novel products, and re-define globalization: vowing to serve the international community with no-strings-attached. And in keeping with OTMs commitment to strong CSR principles, we hold steadfast in our belief that the Fair Trade movement offers significant value to companies and consumers. We believe that an ever-increasing number of companies will come to understand the value and importance of Fair Trade. We are hopeful that we can play a small part in getting the message out to CSR driven companies, all while advancing Fair Trade principles in dynamic, innovative, and economical ways.


NACS Wins Gold at AAPC Pollie Awards and Conference

March 28, 2017 - The NACS government relations team was recognized at the Association of Political Consultants’ (AAPC) 2017 Pollie Awards & Conference, earlier this month. The team’s work on the 2016 Chip & PIN Public Awareness Campaign won a gold award the category of "Best Use of Social Media" within the Digital/Internet - Public Affairs Division.

Together with OTM Partners and Social Driver, NACS launched the Chip & PIN campaign in October 2016. The primary goal of the campaign was to educate consumers on the importance of credit card personal identification number (PIN) technology and build a strong social media presence -- where it otherwise didn’t exist -- creating an environment where consumers could express their concerns about inadequate credit card security.

Using social media, the campaign transformed the conversation surrounding PIN technology, and increased consumer awareness and understanding. As a result of the campaign, diverse audiences cohered into a movement, via social media, in support of PIN.

During the three-month campaign, NACS raised consumer awareness of the benefits of PIN technology. The Chip & PIN message reached 1.9 million people, triggered 50,300 engagements, including 2,350 Facebook likes, 847 Twitter followers, and 6,600 visits to the campaign website.


The AAPC Pollie Awards recognize top achievements in the political communications and public affairs industries. A full list of winners can be found here. Founded in 1969, the AAPC is a multi-partisan organization of political and public affairs professionals dedicated to improving democracy. The AAPC has over 1,400 members hailing from all corners of the globe.  It is the largest association of political and public affairs professionals in the world. For more information, see