In PR we always look for opportunities for our clients to tell their story about their mission, solutions and services that help others. Media exposure is powerful – we all know this, but sometimes businesses forget that small things can make a big difference. Today on a NYC radio show, a business made news for doing the right thing at the right time.

On my drive into work this morning I heard a story on WPLJ 95.5FM about a single mother with three children that had been without power for a month. The morning show informed listeners that they had learned of the woman’s story after she Tweeted the show’s producer about how she was trying to raise money to pay her $1,700 electric bill using GoFundMe. They called her and spoke to her this morning on the air and she recounted how she was working part-time wasn’t able to pay all the bills, and as a result her power was turned off.  Morning Show Host Todd Pettengill told the woman they were going to send out a post on Twitter and encourage listeners to donate if they could by 10am and that he would personally make up the difference. And it worked, listeners donated, but one company stepped up and delivered. Marathon Energy, third-party energy provider in Brooklyn called in and told the woman that they were going to pay off her entire bill and provide her with a full year of energy at no cost.

The announcement of course was music to the woman’s ears. As someone in marketing, it was a PR home run that we all appreciate. It was philanthropy at its best – a company gives back by helping someone. Sure, companies do this every single day, but you don’t always hear about it. So what can your business learn from this?

1. Timing is everything. Marathon was able to respond to this opportunity quickly. When it comes to PR opportunities, businesses need to understand that the news isn’t choreographed. The story can’t always be discussed and planned with time to bring your leadership team up to speed.

2. A little PR goes a long way. Millions of drive-time listeners now know about Marathon Energy that didn’t before. Will that result in record sales? Not necessarily, but it was a great, positive message about the company that is more memorable than any ad they could have placed. It told people that the company cares about people in the community and is ready and willing to help when they can. As a thank you, WPLJ provided a plug for the company on air – the best free advertising you can get.

3. Social media can easily become mass media. This story wasn’t brought to our attention on television. A struggling woman tapped into her social media connections for assistance. She sought funding from an online funding site and sent tweets to spread the word to people she followed. A single tweet to the right person brought it to the airwaves of one of the top radio stations in the #1 media market.

The moral of the story: Doing good things pays off. Getting media coverage is a bonus that is made even sweeter by knowing that those of us listening were reminded to do our part to help others whenever we can.