“This is a time of incredible anxiety and uncertainty, and every person on the planet is sharing this experience.”
— Meghan Labot, FutureBrand Consumer Client Director
Think about that statement for a moment.
How long has it been since something like that could be said aloud and be taken seriously? As COVID-19 continues it’s spread across the globe, each of us finds ourselves vulnerable to its reach and susceptible to its whims. There’s no doubt that we are living in strange times.
Businesses are in the precarious position of keeping their lights on and avoiding sweeping layoffs while adapting to a fully-remote workforce. Video conferences are the new norm for those conducting business as usual; filled with the sounds of dogs barking and our colleagues’ kids making their first Zoom debuts. Some are taking on their new role of “teacher” while figuring out how to balance homeschooling, productivity on the work front and overall; our sanity.
For the first time in nearly a decade, we’re using social media the way they were intended — to connect. Businesses are hopping on Instagram and Twitter to keep audiences engaged and informed about community impact efforts; using their platforms to overcome the greatest of odds by prioritizing people over profits. Here are 5 businesses excelling in outreach, helping us all through these challenging times.
As St. Patrick’s Day parades and festivities were canceled across the country, bars prepared for the blow. New York City’s weeklong celebration brings in 2 million people a year; something bars around the city prepare for months in advance. Bars depend on the revenue generated on St. Patrick’s Day, with PMAC Hospitality’s co-founder Patrick McNamee stating that the one-day event brings in two to three months of their revenue for the entire year.
Despite festivities being tampered down, Ireland’s most famous export Guinness still found a way to promote St. Patrick’s Day and make an impact on the community at large with charitable donations to relief funds In the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, Guinness took to Twitter to announce that the brand was making a $500K donation to the Guinness Gives Back Fund to help support many in-need communities throughout the U.S. who have been most affected by this pandemic.
On March 19, Guinness doubled down, donating $1M donation to the Guinness Gives Back Fund, followed by donating $250K to the U.S. Bartender Guild for all of those working in bars and pubs across America. With their contributions to the fight at hand, Guinness is a brand invested in the well-being of individuals well beyond the borders of their homeland.
Anheuser-Busch InBev and Diageo
As concern hit a tipping point in the United States, stores were quickly targeted for key products like home cleaning supplies, toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Brewers and distillers like Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) and Diageo saw a need and took action; both pledging to donate alcohol to create hand sanitizer for countries most affected by coronavirus. Diageo donated 2 million liters of grain-neutral spirits alone to manufacture over 8 million bottles of hand sanitizer for health care workers risking their lives every day for our safety.
In a press release, Diageo’s Chief Executive Ivan Menezes noted that “Healthcare workers are at the forefront of fighting this pandemic and we are determined to do what we can to help protect them. This is the quickest and most effective way for us to meet the surging demand for hand sanitizer around the world.”
To help with distribution, ABI teamed up with the American Red Cross, dispersing 1M+ bottles of hand sanitizer to those in at-risk communities, health care professionals, and volunteers.
Budweiser, an Anheuser-Busch beer, released an ad titled, “One Team”, showcasing empty stadiums and highlighting Red Cross volunteers and other healthcare workers on the frontlines giving a behind-the-scenes view of the impact of this virus as it continues to spread. The brand continues to remind us that, “this season, we’re all on one team; even though we’re apart.”
When one of the largest and most recognizable brands on the planet uses public outreach to empower communities in a message centered around hope and community, it sets an example for everyone else to follow.
The cancellation of spring training games and the postponement of Opening Day left MLB’s official uniform manufacturer, Fanatics, with a surplus of materials and nothing to do with them. With a green light from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, Fanatics halted the production of MLB jerseys, opting to turn their 36K square foot factory into one dedicated to the fight against COVID 19.
Michael Rubin, Fanatics founder and executive chairman, diverted all production to focus solely on the creation of face masks and hospital gowns for nearby hospitals, utilizing MLB uniform fabric starting with the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees.
Rubin hopes Fanatics can create 15,000 masks and gowns per day, doing their part to help flatten the curve and protect our healthcare professionals. Putting people over monetary gain, Fanatics has shown an innovative way to create protective gear with materials they already had on deck. Fanatics is leading the way for relief by putting people first, with Rubin noting that they’re “ less worried about manufacturing jerseys and more worried about just saving lives.”
For the past several years, the media has been a regular target from every angle. With blurred lines and contradicting statements, many news outlets have been deemed “fake news” by public officials; regardless of the legitimacy of the publication. In the midst of this pandemic, people need factual, accessible and unbiased content from a heavily-saturated, 24-hour news cycle.
True journalists aren’t in the game for the praise, the money or the recognition; they’re in it to educate the public in times of confusion, closed doors, and red tape. In the words of Jeffrey Goldberg, “We didn’t go into journalism to sell subscriptions. We went in, with any luck, to inform and enlighten the public . . . and help people.”
With content overloads on Twitter and OpEd braindumps on Facebook, the ability to follow legitimate publications and reporters who take their journalistic oath seriously is indispensable.
Since the first confirmed case in the United States back in January, The Atlantic has been on top of its coverage, accelerating their content cadence and broadening their content distribution, The publication removed their paywall to expand accessibility, churning out updates from different points of view daily, spelling out what it’s really like out in the trenches on the frontline.
The New York Times has also been pushing out timely information surrounding this virus. The publication is one of several that has followed The Atlantic’s lead and taken down their paywalls to give more people access to reliable, factual information.
By foregoing profit brought in my paywalls for the public good, the media is reclaiming its role as the fourth estate by providing necessary, timely and accurate information to an audience that desperately needs facts and objectivity.
In light of sweeping layoffs, shelter-in-place orders and panic-buying, delivery services have seen a huge increase in demand. With bars being closed and restaurants operating on a take-out or delivery only basis, service industry workers who now face unemployment are searching for ways to make ends meet.
Instacart’s founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta announced that the grocery-delivery service created 300,000 jobs for full-service shoppers. In her announcement, Mehta said, “as more people look for immediate, flexible earnings opportunities during this time, we hope that Instacart can be an additional source of income for those looking to earn while also delivering for the communities in which they live.”
With 300K more people in stores and on the roads for delivery, Instacart can help those who cannot get to the grocery store or the pharmacy due to increased susceptibility of exposure in the outside world.
Right now, someone is scrolling through Twitter looking for breaking news in their area, holding onto the hope that things will get better soon. Right now, someone is donating blood to the Red Cross in a time of dire need. Right now, n95 respirator masks are being manufactured by companies worldwide for hospitals across the country to protect those risking their lives on the front line.
We know that seeing our favorite NBA player or singer-songwriter on a live stream doesn’t replace the hype of a sold-out crowd, but it does allow us to connect and share an experience with your friends. Soon enough . . . we’ll clink our glasses and cheers to the return of our source of sanity: experiencing a live event with 45,000 of your closest friends.