Helping Lenovo Bring “Work For Humankind” to North Carolina

Denada Jackson • July 21, 2023

Lenovo’s Work for Humankind public relations campaign in North Carolina lasted three weeks and involved 13 students working with over a dozen organizations in three cities. Lenovo tasked NP Strategy with executing an activation that serves the organization’s values while ensuring an enjoyable experience for the participants and maximizing our storytelling audience. Each detail mattered and required deep logistical planning to formulate an engaging experience for all involved.

HBCU Participation

Lenovo has strong relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities in North Carolina. Elizabeth City State University’s participation was unique. Student groups from the Community Emergency Response Team joined all legs of the journey to offer their perspective on conservation work across North Carolina.

NP Strategy connected with the dean of their Aviation and Emergency Management Department to develop a student selection process, resulting in students from over five different cities joining the campaign.

Students were asked to help capture video and photography content along with writing blog posts about their experiences. While capturing this content, students also kept up with their schoolwork. Being able to capture content, write blog posts and continue schoolwork from remote areas of North Carolina proved Lenovo’s belief that with the right technology, you can truly work from anywhere.

Mountains to Sea Trail Partnership

This was the perfect year to partner with Friends of Mountains to Sea Trail, as 2023 is the Year of the Trail. 40 years ago, Robert Lee, Chapel Hill’s first Black mayor and cabinet official under Governor Jim Hunt, announced an idea to build a trail from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks.

NP Strategy worked closely with the trail team to plan activities at each stop. They connected us with the Ranger Station in Jockey’s Ridge and Cherokee, directors at various museums and community centers like Canetuck in Burgaw, N.C., and helped us understand the possibilities each stop could offer students.

With guidance from the trail team, we determined which three stops would have the largest impact on both the student’s curiosity and Lenovo’s conservation efforts. The goal was to provide students with a conservation volunteer opportunity, enable them to experience the trail and start a lasting project for future hikers.

A Lasting Initiative

After the Work For Humankind activation was over, Lenovo wanted to ensure the initiative had a lasting impact. Each stop used Lenovo technology to create platforms that are useful for years to come.

In the Outer Banks, the data students collected will be used for a project in the fall to develop a flood analysis for the Mountains to Sea Trail team. They will use the information to help determine where the rest of the trail should be built to avoid flooding. Since most students majored in emergency management, an NP Strategy team member who formerly worked in government communications is a taught students how emergency communications work in city governments.

In Burgaw, students were able to build content about their experiences and the area’s rich history. The blogs and photos they created will be stored and shared on Mountains to Sea Trail’s inclusion page – MST For All. The content is meant to encourage people of color to hike the trail and experience the Black history on the trail. During a planned lunch and learn, NP Strategy’s social media manager taught students social media tactics.

In Cherokee, students visited or hiked to seven points of interest then photographed and wrote about their experience for others to nail the perfect shot or select the right trail to hike. Motorola will take this content and build an app called Cherokee: Mountains-to-Sea Trail. The app will be featured for downloads from the Mountains to Sea Trail downloadable guides.

Media Relations

 NP Strategy recognized the North Carolina activation of Work For Humankind had several different stories to tell – from the overall project to the work accomplished by students at each stop and Lenovo’s effort to change the face of conservation.

Knowing this, NP Strategy would rely on tailoring the message, crafting compelling stories, leveraging various media channels, and engaging with the community.

NP Strategy worked to craft compelling narratives that highlighted the North Carolina activation’s objectives, and lasting impact.

The media relations team employed a multi-faceted approach, combining traditional media outlets such as local television news, newspapers and radio stations with digital platforms and social media.

NP Strategy connected with HBCU Pride Nation, an online platform that promotes the significance, importance, and connectivity of HBCU graduates and students, to interview one student per week during an Instagram Live.

NP Strategy’s media team then researched and compiled a list of outlets that may not normally write about Lenovo like a conservation-focused publication or an HBCU-centric outlet. One such outlet, the podcast “Conservation Realist,” interviewed students after their time with Work For Humankind to gain insight into their conservation efforts during the project.

 NP Strategy: We Are Full Service

From the initial brainstorming in March of 2022 to the final click of the van engine turning off in Greer, SC, NP Strategy displayed its powerful capability to be a full-service agency. This project encompassed almost every public relations aspect, including videography, media relations, stakeholder engagement, digital content production, and crisis management.

Nearly every member of the NP Strategy team played a role in the planning and execution of this enormous project. While the participating students were learning that they could work from anywhere using technology and impact local communities, the NP Strategy team discovered new ways to work together with employees in the field while staying connected to the office.

Sometimes you need to learn to walk and chew gum at the same time. It is safe to say that after experiencing and participating in Lenovo’s Work for Humankind campaign, students and NP Strategy participants learned they could take that old quote one step further – run and chew hot dogs simultaneously.

Thank you to the Elizabeth City State University students, Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail, the Pisgah Ranger Station, Pender County Government, Jockey’s Ridge Park Rangers along with many other stakeholders – and a special thank you to Lenovo for providing the opportunity of a lifetime!

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