Metro Marketing has always held corporate social responsibility close to its heart with their Director Michelle Crook constantly inspiring her team to have an impact in their communities, and beyond.
Nikita Williams, General Manager and Senior Designer at Metro Marketing said marketing and design were rarely a high priority for not-for-profit organisations and events, so they tried to help out where they could with charity rates and pro bono services for clients including: Breast Cancer Support Services Tauranga Trust, YSAR (Youth Search & Rescue), Waipuna Hospice, Alzheimer’s Tauranga, SociaLink, Takitimu House, Tauranga Business Awards, The Colour Dash - the list goes on.
For this work and more Metro Marketing was a finalist in the Community Good Award in the Rocketspark 2021 Launch Awards.
“That was the award that meant the most to us, it was nice to be recognised and hopefully inspire others to support their communities as best they can.”
“It sounds like there are a lot of Rocketspark Design Partners doing some incredible things for their communities so it’s nice to be among them,” Nikita said.
Michelle has served on many boards over the years, not to mention completing her seventh continent marathon in Antarctica while raising money for Alzheimer's, and the enormous efforts previously raising over $100,000 for Ronald McDonald House through The Colour Dash.
She has also been a finalist in New Zealander of the Year, and most recently made the Queen’s 2021 New Years Honours list for her contribution to the community.
Michelle said her passion for helping others stemmed back to the time when she was a Rotary exchange student living in a small town in southern Arizona called Casa Grande.
“I was from a working class family in New Zealand, and the Rotary Club that hosted me recognised very quickly that I had limited means to participate fully. With that observation made, they went out of their way to ensure that I had sufficient funds to get by and enjoy all that was on offer. They also paid for me to attend the Rotary International Convention which was in Kansas City, an experience that I will never forget. Through their kindness and inspiration, I came back to New Zealand and decided to study at university and to pursue a professional career. And so I now try to pay their kindness back by paying it forward for others and supporting the community that has supported me.”
Michelle said becoming a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s Honours list was surreal and humbling.
“To be honest, being involved in community activities is a real buzz for me, as I get to mix with so many amazing and giving people. I never ever expected to be recognised for doing something I love and enjoy, but it has been a really lovely time since the announcement. When we travelled to Wellington for the investiture in May, I was able to have my husband, parents, children and sister with me, and seeing their pride and excitement probably gave me the biggest thrill of all. Particularly having my parents there, as they have always led by example and worked hard to contribute to make communities and neighbourhoods stronger. They are proof that it’s not what you’ve got that is important, but it’s what you give that has the most meaning of all,” Michelle said.
In 2015 Michelle obtained the rights to hold ‘The Colour Dash’ in New Zealand with the latest one held in January 2021. Michelle saw it in America when she was visiting her exchange family and so decided to bring it across to New Zealand and give all of the profits back to charity.
“Ronald McDonald house has been the main recipient with over 100K raised because of a close connection Michelle and her son have with them. We started The Colour Dash in Tauranga, before expanding and doing it all over the country. We also gave back to local community groups along the way.
“It’s quite unique for a marketing and design agency to run events across New Zealand, but we do it. That’s just how Michelle works, she gets an idea and runs with it and we always get behind her. We say she’s got a popcorn brain as she is constantly dreaming up ideas and turning them into reality,” Nikita said.
One charitable client that Metro has been involved with for a long time is the Breast Cancer Support Service Tauranga Trust.
“They are a local breast cancer support service for men and women in our community, which I think is special because it’s different to the national organisation, it’s more personalised and focused on supporting local and helping them through their journey with breast cancer.
“I think everyone knows someone who has had or has breast cancer. We support Breast Cancer Support Service Tauranga Trust in various ways whether it’s with their fundraising, events, design services or their website with both pro bono and charity rates. We’ve worked with them for almost 10 years now and Michelle has also served on their board and as chair,” Nikita said.
Through Best Cancer Support Service Tauranga Trust Metro made another connection with a project called The Dear Boobs Project.
The Dear Boobs Project was created by a young woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was in her early 30s.
“As part of her healing process she wrote a letter to her boobs and realised it was a great way to express her feelings and to get her emotions out in order to heal, she actually asked others to submit letters to their boobs from all over New Zealand and the world and put a book together. Now it’s in waiting rooms and in bookshops around the country.
“We helped her build her website on Rocketspark and guided her with marketing and PR," Nikita said.
Nikita said the main reason the Metro team liked to give was because supporting the community you live in was something everyone should do if they could.
“I think if you give back then that goodwill and work comes back around. It’s about getting involved with initiatives that we are passionate about and mean something to us. There are so many charities out there and marketing and design is rarely part of their budget, it’s always put to the side - we want to support those organisations to be seen and heard.
“Michelle has definitely been an inspiration to the rest of us and a driver behind why we support those organisations, she’s so driven and passionate that you can’t help but catch the bug.
I nominated her for New Zealander of the year a few years ago, she’s not the kind of person that would put herself forward, she doesn’t do it for the recognition or anything like that, but she became a finalist, which was a great achievement. And then, this year she was nominated and received the Queen’s honour award for community good.
“There’s so much work that she’s done behind the scenes and I think it’s great that she’s getting some recognition, she deserves it,” Nikita said.
Rocketspark announced at Launch 2021 that it would be giving every design partner a free not-for-profit website to give to an organisation of their choice, the initiative is called Gift-it-forward.
“One of our clients is The Kollective, they are a coworking space based in Tauranga, but predominantly for not-for-profit and community organisations. It’s a really cool environment, so we’ve reached out to them to see if they might have a good recipient for Gift-it-forward.
“We now have a list of potential companies that could really benefit from having more of an online presence,” Nikita said.
Nikita said Metro had been through many changes over the years, but one thing that had always remained at its heart was the team’s passion and drive to support not-for-profit organisations and events who create a better community for all.
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