COVID-19 Requires Brands To Aid Community Relief Efforts

Consumers expect brands to step up and be a force for good. Research shows 67% of American consumers have changed their opinions of companies for the better because of their COVID-19 responses. How brands respond during a crisis directly impacts future favorability and whether consumers will consider brands going forward.

Some socially responsible brands may shy away from contributing to community relief efforts out of a mistaken belief that it will come across as opportunistic. What these brands are forgetting is that public relations, at its heart, is really about doing the right thing and building relationships between organizations and their audiences. 

Currently, the need for brands to step in to provide community relief is significant, especially among vulnerable populations, such as lower-income and part-time workers. These individuals face a higher risk of job loss as a result of furloughs and layoffs. The following strategies can help brands determine how best to contribute to relief efforts for those who need it most and earn positive public exposure.



1. Be creative. Brands should push the envelope to brainstorm innovative social impact ideas. The most impactful ideas will serve members of the community who are most in need.

For example, Zaxby’s recently rolled out its new Zax Pack for Two menu item in a creative way: As customers sat in the drive-thru, they were met with a violinist, caricature artist, and roses — a “Drive-Thru Date Night,” as it was dubbed. Zaxby’s recognized the need to give couples an exciting opportunity to do something special together without breaking the bank in a time of increased financial sensitivity.

The pandemic is having an economic impact on most of us. There’s absolutely a way for your brand to use its assets or expertise to help, no matter your industry.

2. Be authentic. When brands remain true to their values in everything they do, consumers view the brand’s actions as a genuine desire to help, rather than a marketing ploy. Deciding how to step up during a crisis should be an inside-out undertaking. To ensure that your actions come off as genuine rather than opportunistic, start by aligning action with the company’s values and what makes your brand unique.

For example, Banana Republic partnered with Delivering Good, a nonprofit, to donate $20 million worth of new clothes to people in need, including those who’ve lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19. Through this partnership, Banana Republic is using what it knows to help those affected by poverty, homelessness, and job loss.

3. Be compassionate. However your brand chooses to make a difference, the effort should start with compassion and empathy. The effects of the pandemic have been far-reaching, so begin by researching how to translate your brand’s compassion into tangible benefits for communities. Search for potential community partners that are positively impacting your area in ways that align with your brand’s mission.

One brand that’s made a real difference during the pandemic is DoorDash, which teamed up with  United Way to address the hunger problem in America that’s been exacerbated by COVID-19. DoorDash’s last-mile logistics program allows local food distribution points such as food banks to deliver food to those in need. By late May, the program, which was launched the month prior, had already delivered more than 15,000 boxes of food.

COVID-19 is a global tragedy. It’s also a time for brands to use what they know to make a difference. If your brand makes a genuine effort to help those who need it most during this crisis and beyond, you can win over audiences now and into the future.

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