How Brands Can Help in Times of Crisis

Ryan Rogers

Ryan Rogers

Senior Copywriter

A little more than a week ago, heavy downpours inundated areas across Louisiana with floodwaters. More than 60,000 homes were damaged and 13 people were killed across five parishes.“This disaster is the worst to hit the United States since Superstorm Sandy,” said Brad Kieserman, the Red Cross’s vice president of disaster services operations and logistics. “We anticipate it will cost at least $30 million — a number which may grow as we learn more about the scope and magnitude of the devastation.”

The natural disaster turned national crisis prompted visits from a presidential hopeful and the Commander in Chief himself to the devastated region. But more impressive are the thousands of volunteers from all over the state who continue to pour into Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas, offering assistance to their neighbors in need. Among these throngs are local businesses that are using their resources to turn the tide in an area that desperately needs a helping hand.

These companies are using their resources to do good and setting examples for other businesses in the process. Here’s what we’ve learned about how brands can help people in times of crisis:

Give What You Can

Brands that benefit from the patronage of their communities should feel compelled to give back. That doesn’t necessarily mean writing an oversized check and posing for a picture, but it does mean showing up and giving what you can. Boots on the ground and hands in the kitchen might be just as valuable as a donation.

During the recent event, Zatarain’s hosted a “Jambalaya Relief Team” lunch station in Springfield, Louisiana, where the company served hot meals to hundreds of victims and volunteers. Zatarain’s also deployed a similiar relief team in Staten Island, New York immediately after Superstorm Sandy.

Walk The Walk

As a business, you help define the local fabric. If you’ve cultivated legacy and tradition, then your neighbors may look to you for stability and comfort. With that standing comes responsibility, an obligation to show up and roll up your sleeves. Because you can’t claim to be part of the community without truly assisting the community in times of dire need.

Also during the Louisiana flooding crisis, Whitney Bank, a 100-year-old local institution, offered a special recovery assistance loan program and made sure the affected communities knew the bank would be with them every step of the way while they begin the process of rebuilding.

Focus On The Cause

If gaining media exposure is your primary objective, then you might not be the right kind of company for the job. In the face of a crisis, realize that it’s not about your company. It’s about aiding those in need. So keep your efforts pure and your heart in the right place.

In response to Hurricane Katrina, Walmart outperformed federal and local relief when its trucks reached the disaster areas days before government entities. Walmart truck drivers were greeted as heroes, and the company was widely recognized for its efficient provision of much-needed emergency supplies.

Believe In Your Ability To Inspire

You might not realize it, but as a business, you’ve got the power to inspire others. Whether your organization is big or small, there’s strength in your numbers. Seeing a group of people united under one mission can inspire others to join in. The sheer fact that you’re a group doing good work is enough to make a statement.

In addition to its various, layered relief programs, Dell matches team members’ contributions dollar for dollar, up to $10,000 per employee, per calendar year. As part of its team member engagement program, Dell sends the message that no good deed should go unrewarded.

Don’t Wait For Disaster To Strike

The opportunity to engage with the public on a personal, emotional level is always there. You don’t have to wait for a natural disaster or an act of terror to do good work. Make an effort to constantly build the goodwill of your brand and strengthen public trust.

One Friday each month, LinkedIn’s employees participate in “InDay.” InDay’s purpose is to give back to the community through employee volunteerism and resources. InDay activities range from guest speakers discussing global justice to initiating global learning programs and volunteering in local communities.

Here at Peter Mayer, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all local businesses, big and small, for their contributions in this time of great distress.

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