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13 Ideas How Businesses Can Help with Hurricane Harvey Relief

Hurricane victims depend on CSR – How your company can help

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When America experiences a disaster such as Hurricane Harvey it is easy for companies to jump onto the donation drive bandwagon without much strategy. On one hand, this is what makes America great, as Americans have always stepped up to the plate to help others. However, without a plan, opportunities can be lost. 

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a not a buzzword anymore, it’s a way of life for many companies. A recent paper published in the Journal of Marketing looked at why companies have CSR programs and what drives companies to act. I encourage every business to look at this report and evaluate their own CSR program outreach. 

Below are some CSR disaster relief ideas that even small businesses can do to help with Hurricane Harvey. The main key is to keep it simple. 

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  1. Don’t forget about social media – the epicenter of all communication. Be smart, compassionate and think before you post. Even if you are not located anywhere near the Texas coast, you can offer a response to the disaster. If your company is interrupted and affected, use social media to announce closings, updates and information as well as your care and concern.

  2. Remember, cash is king during disasters and Hurricane Harvey is no different. Organizations need cash first and foremost. Ask customers to donate to the American Red Cross. Create a Point of Service (POS) and arm employees with the information needed for requests. Some larger companies such as Starbucks or Lowes.

  3. Get employees on board and excite and motivate them to donate. You may want to institute an employee Jeans Day/Week in exchange for a donation to a disaster relief organization.

  4. Put a tab on your company Facebook profile for donation requests. Facebook has made it super easy to create an American Red Cross donate button right on your Facebook page. I put the donation button on my personal page last night. Super easy.

  5. Consider a company matching program. For every $1 donated something with be matched. It is quite OK to establish a limit. Examples include Amazon & Whole Foods and 7-Eleven.

  6. Use your location as a collection drop-off for much needed donations. Caveat here: make sure that the requested donations are things that have been requested. For example, since there has been a loud cry for infant formula and diapers for the area evacuation centers, TrizCom PR is hosting an infant formula and diaper donation drive at our office building.

  7. Host a food drive. Last year, TrizCom client, Legacy ER & Urgent Care held a food donation drive at its locations for North Texas food banks after devastating tornadoes and collected over 1,000 cans of nonperishable food.

  8. Host (and promote) a blood drive for employees, customers and families to participate. http://www.carterbloodcare.org/donate-blood/.

  9. Organize a companywide day of service to volunteer at a local nonprofit.

  10. For Texas companies, consider a pet food drive to help the local shelters who are taking pets in from the Gulf Coast. Contact your local shelter and ask how you can help as a company.

  11. Offer an extra office for use. During Hurricane Rita, I worked at the Dallas Regional Chamber. Many evacuees from Rita and from Katrina called DFW home for months. Area businesses offered office space for displaced people – especially independent contractors. Call your local chamber of commerce and see if they have anything in place.

  12. If you have employees close to the affected area, offer time off to employees to help clean up.

  13. Think of the lesser known charities that help with disaster relief and consider formulating a donation drive to help them. However, first check out Guidestar to confirm that you are donating to a legitimate organization. (https://trust.guidestar.org/helping-in-the-wake-of-hurricane-harvey)

Legacy ER & Urgent Care

Legacy ER & Urgent Care

If anything can be learned from this, have a CSR disaster plan in place, so that when it happens you won’t be starting from ground zero.

The American Red Cross and your local government are there to help. Don’t be afraid to call an expert and ask what is needed, how you can help and the best way to activate.

TrizCom PR offers a wide range of strategic communication and public relation services including charitable giving strategies. Please don’t hesitate to call for a free consultation on how your company might implement a CSR strategy. Feel free to reach out to me directly for more information: Jo@TrizCom.com.

 

The Mask of Social Media

Oscar Wilde was once quoted as saying, “Man is least himself when he walks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.”

It seems that we have always been more comfortable expressing ourselves from behind a mask. However, with the advent of rampant technological communication, sometimes the masks people wear when they are online, texting or via email actually muddy the tone and create misperception in messaging. This masquerade ball that is social media is absolutely the most dangerous of all.

Facebook has been linked to depression and also has been described as a haven for narcissists. Instagram, and the widespread use of "filtering," has raised concerns about how these digitally altered photos leave many people feeling envious or bad about themselves.

However, the habit of social media has become a way of functioning. We wake up, have coffee, check Facebook, go to work, Instagram at lunch, check email, Snapchat, etc. But what if we were more mindful about what we are posting and why we are posting it? What if we took one small part of impulsivity out of the equation? Create a space between thought and action.  Many people and companies have seen their brand compromised because someone didn’t do just that. The examples are endless.

Personally and in business, here are five questions that you can ask yourself that may shift your decision to share content, pictures or thoughts:

1) Why this?

                What’s the intention behind the post? Take a pause. Internally inquire.

2) Who will see this?

                Is this a company account? Is this appropriate for your intended audience?

3) Can it be misunderstood or bring about unhelpful controversy?

                Tone is tricky. You must be mindful.

4) Is this MY news to share?

Don’t blow a big announcement, especially someone else’s. Embargo until you have permission to share.

5) If commenting on an article, did you read the whole thing?

It becomes fairly obvious when someone doesn’t read an entire article before commenting. Be informed.

One tried and true rule that has stood the test of time needs to be applied no matter what mask you may or may not be wearing on social media – the Golden Rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Set It and Forget It? Three Rules for Pre-Scheduling Posts.

The age of social media has been called “the new wild west” and that’s a pretty accurate description when you consider that reputations, jobs and entire lives have been destroyed with a single tweet.

With a business that regularly engages with the public, it’s crucial that your message be carefully crafted and sensitive to what is happening in “real time,” which can be challenging when social media posts are increasingly pre-scheduled. And while pre-scheduled posts can be invaluable in maintaining engagement, they can be trickier to manage than they appear.

“Pre-scheduled” makes people think “Easy! I can schedule and then go about my business!” But Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s recent screw-up on Twitter after the tragic mass shooting in Orlando is a perfect example of why scheduling and forgetting is, at best, ill-advised. Because after your post goes live, “It was pre-scheduled” is just not good enough. Twitter doesn’t care, and Twitter will hit back – hard. Twitter will make sure the news goes national, and it can take a lot of work to bounce back, if you or your brand can manage to bounce back at all.

Now personally, I like to have a range (minimum one, maximum three) of daily posts for TrizCom on Facebook and LinkedIn, and three or more for Twitter. To make sure I get at least one post per day, I will pre-schedule, but I never “schedule and forget it.” I follow three basic rules when it comes to pre-scheduling posts.

First, a pre-scheduled post should be general yet specific to the client and their brand, and kept light and positive. Nothing you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time engaging in or responding to. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t have been pre-scheduling it in the first place.

Second, pre-schedule during hours of the day where you can re-check about 15 minutes before the post goes live, meaning nothing very early in the morning or very late at night. You’ll want to make sure the post is still relevant, and that nothing has happened between the time it was scheduled and the time it posts that makes it insensitive, incorrect or offensive. This includes any hashtags used in the post; make sure that hashtag isn’t trending on Twitter negatively or in response to a tragedy.

Third, if something does go live that coincides with an unexpected event and results in some backlash, have a plan for how you’re going to handle it. Respond quickly and honestly, and be transparent.

The most predictable thing about life is that it’s so unpredictable. So, yes, pre-schedule posts. Just use care and common sense, revisit before it goes live, and when scheduling 7AM Sunday Bible verses, maybe stick to the “glad verses” (as Pollyanna called them), just in case.

And for you TL;DR types: Post wisely, friends.