Project Description

NSO Bell BuildingNeighborhood Services Organization: Bell Building Renovation and Transformation

For 60 years, Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO) has provided life-changing and supportive programs to positively impact the lives of the community’s most vulnerable neighbors.

NSO’s consumers face multiple challenges that require a comprehensive approach to resolve. This is especially true for people who are homeless.

Instead of simply managing the problem of homelessness, NSO embarked on a groundbreaking effort in 2007 to lead the region toward eliminating homelessness through an innovative new program that would provide permanent, supportive housing for homeless adults and support services to help them stabilize and turn their lives around, all in one facility: the NSO Bell Building.

NSO needed to raise $52 million in capital for the renovation to transform the historic and abandoned Michigan Bell Building into the NSO Bell Building, which would include 155 one-bedroom apartments and serve as the new headquarters for NSO and its more than 200 employees.
Marx Layne devised a comprehensive integrated communications plan to promote the launch of the capital campaign, A Place to Call Home, and the various phases of the monumental project. The plan was designed to maximize financial contributions from businesses and individuals and raise awareness of NSO programs and the Bell Building project.
Marx Layne devised a highly visible media relations campaign. To fully integrate messaging, the agency managed: the design, writing and programming of NSO’s new website; social media; outreach to targeted donors and community; and the design, writing and disseminating of a monthly e-newsletter and semiannual tabloid-size print newsletter, which we continue to produce today.

Marx Layne assisted NSO with conceptualizing, designing and producing collateral material, such as direct mail pieces, fliers and e-blasts for the capital campaign.

We coordinated multiple press events, including: a ground breaking ceremony in 2011; before, during and immediately following the move-in of the first set of residents in August 2012; and the official ribbon cutting ceremony in October 2013. Throughout the campaign, we also hosted media tours of the NSO Bell Building.

In addition to our media outreach we: developed key messages and Q&As for NSO leadership; created compelling press kits and all related materials, from press releases to FAQs and fact sheets; assisted the client in launch logistics; and conducted pre-, day-of and post-event media relations activities.

To keep the capital campaign top-of-mind for NSO’s existing and potential supporters, staff, funders, donors, the faith-based and general community at large and the media, Marx Layne interviewed and wrote profiles on the Bell Building residents in monthly e-newsletters and print newsletters that were distributed to the client’s database. We used the NSO website and social media channels to regularly share construction updates and photos of the various stages of the renovation. We also positioned NSO’s President and CEO and other Bell Building renovation project leaders for expert commentary regarding issues of homelessness on public affairs and talk radio programs.

Marx Layne successfully garnered exhaustive media coverage and tremendous public awareness of the NSO Bell Building project. Coverage included consistent news, interviews and features stories on all four local television stations, in major daily newspapers—The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press—and in community news publications.  We also secured spotlights in online news outlets and coverage by the Associated Press.

From a social media standpoint, once Marx Layne took over the daily responsibility of posting content to the NSO Facebook page, we increased the number of followers from approximately 2,000 to more than 5,000.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony, more than 500 people were in attendance for the hour-long presentation, which included donors, city and state representatives, corporate and nonprofit partners, NSO staff and NSO Bell Building residents, among other key stakeholders.