In the aftermath of the horrors caused in Cleveland, Ohio by Ariel Castro, the man charged with keeping three women captive for over 10 years, one particular person has stood out. Charles Ramsey, Castro’s neighbor, rescued the three women and then proceeded to gain national recognition after his colorful rendition of the events. Since then, local small business owner Scott Kuhn has honored Ramsey with the “Chuck Card,” a card granting Ramsey free burgers for life.
“We want to honor our local hero with local food,” Kuhn told reporters.
In addition, Hodge’s Cleveland, the restaurant where Ramsey works as a dishwasher, unveiled a new Charles Ramsey-inspired hamburger.
Is this opportunism? Exploitation?
No. Plain and simple, these are the acts of good small businesses honoring a local hero for doing what was right. Ramsey refused a reward, opting instead to turn over the money to the victims. While Ramsey’s actions gained the nation’s attention, plenty of opportunities exist in the backyards of millions of businesses nationwide.
They say any press is good press. That’s not true. Good press is good press. Bad press is a failure on the part of a business to control their image and/or business practices. Good press, on the other hand, should be treasured and sought after. One of the best ways to gain good press, then, is to honor those in your community that deserve honoring.
Now, this is not the same as charity. Generally speaking, charity is generosity and helpfulness, especially towards the needy or suffering. An honorarium, however, is a payment for a service on which custom or propriety forbids a price to be set. What this means is that heroes do not charge for their heroism. Thus, it falls upon society to show our appreciation for their actions.
Knowing this, the rest should be easy. Apportion part of your marketing budget as honoraria to local heroes. So, if you run a carpet cleaning business and you hear about a firefighter who rescued a family, send him a letter with a gift certificate for a free house cleaning. If you sell makeup, give a complete make over to the class valedictorian at a local high school. The opportunities are limitless, the goodwill within your community is priceless, and you will know that you have done a good thing.
Robert S. Bexley, Attorney
Bexley Law Firm, LLC