Wall Street Rides FAR (For Autism Research) is an annual charity cycling and walking event that brings together top industry firms and professionals to raise money for the Autism Science Foundation (ASF). Even with its incredibly worthy mission and strong pedigree – it was founded by Wall Street veterans Bryan and Melissa Harkins – the inaugural Ride in 2016 lacked the high-level industry exposure it needed to meet its participation and fundraising goals. When the Ride approached Forefront the following year requesting that we spearhead marketing and public relations on a pro bono basis, we knew we had to execute a dynamic campaign that would resonate with industry stakeholders who could not only lend their generosity, but encourage others to do so as well.
We quickly realized that the Ride’s existing supporters were our greatest asset. Wall Street is a hyper-competitive environment during the trading day, but the Ride provided an opportunity for these firms to lay down their arms and come together for a greater purpose. We sought to highlight this human element in a variety of ways, including through content marketing and industry and media relations.
In addition to emphasizing this angle, we knew that securing buy-in from these individuals and firms would be key to driving interest among their peers. That meant approaching them directly to ask that they amplify Ride-focused content on their LinkedIn channels. Finally, as we were tasked with activating a niche audience, we targeted a variety of Wall Street-focused platforms, including LinkedIn, industry organizations and trade media.
Our efforts for Wall Street Rides FAR have taken a variety of forms over the years, raising the Ride’s profile as it has raised over $2 million for ASF to date, with 2021 nearly doubling the previous fundraising high. Our content marketing centered around our Rider of the Week campaign, consisting of ghostwritten profiles spotlighting a different rider and their firm each week. These accounts served to increase awareness among industry professionals while simultaneously enticing firms to become sponsors by offering the promotional content as a value add. We then worked with each profile subject individually to guide them through the process of posting their features to their personal LinkedIn pages, making them visible to thousands of individuals in the Ride’s target audience.
In addition to content and digital marketing, Forefront leveraged relationships at the New York Stock Exchange to secure massive exposure within the industry, as the Ride rang the opening bell in 2019 and the closing bell in 2020. We also secured a speaking slot for ASF President Alison Singer at Security Traders Association’s annual Market Structure Conference, where she promoted the event to a highly targeted audience. These opportunities led to more eyeballs on the Ride and served as key validation of its growth and impact. In addition, we secured several earned media placements highlighting the Ride’s ability to bring together rival firms, including in Bloomberg, Business Insider, Cheddar and Traders Magazine.
“Wall Street Rides FAR has grown tremendously in just a few short years, and Forefront has played an absolutely critical role in that,” said Bryan Harkins, Ride Chairman. “Their efforts to get our name out there, amplify our message through creative content and drum up excitement about the Ride have been huge and we are very fortunate to have them on our team.”