Images – Bushfire: AAP: Dean Lewins | Rain: Bradley Apps | Hail: ABC News David Foote | Smoke: Linsay Patterson
Nature has continued to unleash its worst this summer. Sadly, bushfires have burned over 10 million hectares across the country, most of Canberra shut down when its air quality was deemed worst in the world, only to be followed last week by the most destructive hailstorm in decades.
Although we didn’t expect that marketing would be top of mind when we returned to work for 2020, it ended up being the busiest first day of the year that we’ve had since opening Threesides over a decade ago.
Why so busy? What role does marketing play at such an important time for our country?
We have identified three key themes that seem to recur after natural disasters:
- Quick and mass communication to advise people of the services that have been impacted.
- Letting people know that doors are open for business again.
- Showing compassion for others.
Advising closures or impacts to services
Communicating the impact to services is always the immediate need during a natural disaster, but without previous exposure to this occurrence, some clients don’t have the systems in place to do this on mass.
For example, one community organisation that is more than comfortable communicating with their individual services on a regular basis has never been exposed to all services shutting down at once, due to smoke. So, with no notice, we had a team of staff building a Critical Incident Alert System in a day to ensure that over 4000 contacts could be advised via SMS instantly, that children and health services were still operating, closed or relocated to more suitable premises.
Doors are open, please come back!
When life starts to return to normal to affected communities and businesses are open it can be a strain on towns and cities if tourism is a major money earner for the area. So massive efforts from marketing go into telling people to come back, to support local business and return to the beautiful holiday locations they love.
The 2018 bushfires that devastated Tathra on the South Coast of NSW is the perfect example of how marketing can support a community after a natural disaster. Many holiday makers cancelled their vacations as news of the fires hit the media, but tourism businesses were actually operational shortly after so marketing materials like the advert below and hashtags like #tathrastrong were all about returning as soon as possible so the town wasn’t also devastated by economic downturn.
Showing compassion when its business as usual
For clients where it was business as usual, they were calling in abundance for advice on what to say and how to say it. They wanted to know how to show they care for those affected in a compassionate way and how to best use their marketing channels to direct resources and donations to those communities and businesses that needed it most.
We were pleased to say that on that first day back, the highest number of calls we received were from this group – it truly reminded us how great Australians are at supporting their fellow citizens.
As January draws to a close, things are still busy in this space – we have stepped in to assist with closure messaging around fire and storm damage, fundraising efforts, ensured quick turnaround of messaging, shown clients how to be adaptable and ensure that messaging is consistent and sensitive across all channels.
It has certainly been one of those months that we’ll all remember for a long time to come. Threesides is grateful that we have helped people with our marketing expertise, and we will continue to do so in the future.