ICYMI: Fourth General Meeting Featured Caitlin Clinard, President of Angel Oak Creative


On Thursday, January 26, PRSSA members heard from Caitlin Clinard, President of Angel Oak Creative, who told the story behind one of her firm’s most successful campaigns, “Million Dollar Miracle.”

Caitlin Clinard

To begin discussing the timeline of her professional career, Clinard admitted to not having a job until eight months after her college graduation. Her lack of internships during her college years made it hard for her to land one. But that roadblock wasn’t enough to hold her down.

Clinard eventually began working in an agency, and then in corporate, but realized neither of them were quite for her. However, the two experiences kick started her desire to start her own freelance firm. “Don’t settle if it doesn’t feel right,” said Clinard.

With the help of a large network of individuals, Clinard started Angel Oak Creative, LLC, a freelance marketing firm in Raleigh that specializes in marketing for nonprofits. In her firm, she stresses the focus of purpose driven marketing.

Million Dollar Miracle

To outline some of her firm’s best work, she took us on the journey of how marketing and fundraising intersected to raise $1 million in three months: CORRAL’s Million Dollar Miracle.

CORRAL, a Christian nonprofit that pairs rescued horses with girls to provide healing for the abused, neglected and traumatized, was desperately in need of a financial miracle to save their farm. Along came Angel Oak Creative and Mission Increase Foundation as their miracle.

The campaign’s mission was: “10 Acres, 10 Months, $1 Million. Forever Home.” Strategically, they pitched stories along the lines of: ‘the impact they’re having on girls’ lives’ or ‘how it is the last farm in Cary on Kildaire Farm Rd.,’ to reach out to the public.

To have successful collateral design, Clinard listed five key aspects to focus on:

  1. Audience
  2. Clear brand
  3. One call to action
  4. Quality (images, content, paper)
  5. Deliver

To plan and host successful events, Clinard stressed the importance of inviting the public in and helping them believe they can be a part of CORRAL’s success. Therefore, they hosted events such as CORRAL’s Breakfast on the Farm, Derby Dinner and the End of the Year Graduation Celebration. “They have to see, touch and feel whatever you’re trying to sell them,” said Clinard.

The capital campaign to save CORRAL’s farm kicked off on October 1, 2015. Their fundraising goal was $1 million in ten months. However, CORRAL reached more than their financial goal in just three months, raising a total of $1,022,613. With about $10,000 raised a day, 860 donors and 12 instances of media coverage, CORRAL’s farm was saved.

Additional Tips and Comments from Clinard

  • “PR and marketing is essentially project management. On time, on budget, happy client.”
  • “If I could go back, I would learn some graphic design. One day you’ll be looking over a graphic designer’s shoulder and be like, ‘God, I wish I could do that.’”
  • “The smallest clients demand the most and expect the most.”
  • “It’s okay to say no to people. But always provide them with a solution”
  • “All roads lead to communication. It’s the first thing people cut and the first thing people need.”

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