When you don’t check the pulse of your surrounding community, you risk losing media opportunities and relationship-building moments that could drive more customers to your brand—and when a crisis arises, strong community engagement can make or break your outcomes.
This means the community engagement needs to be a priority in your marketing and communications strategy. “Read, listen, watch, engage. Consider community news in all its formats, including and especially newspapers; Twitter feeds and other social media pushes, organizational Facebook pages, anything about the organizations of interest to you," said Tania Cantrell Rosas-Moreno, a 2019 PRNEWS Top Women in PR honoree and Loyola University Maryland associate professor. "While you can set-up your own newsfeed captures, and that is helpful, be sure to get out of your own rut to be holistically aware of the community where you are nestled. Then, decipher what is interesting from what is important and focus on the latter.”
By proactively taking these steps, community partners can quickly rally with you versus against you in crisis moments. Without this level of engagement, you may find that instead of partners, you have antagonists.
"People today do business with people they know and like," noted Ruth Toomey, executive director of the Maryland Tourism Coalition. “Get involved and give back. By getting involved in the community you become part of the community. Should a crisis strike within your company or organization, those people will remember what you have done for the community and will band together and help you out! If you are a big corporate company and think just joining a chamber is enough, it is not. The community notices when you are absent.” Toomey noted that the Red Cross often leads by example with this concept, readily reaching out to the community to volunteer time or donate items when a crisis strikes. Community partners who feel valued have proven that they will lend a sense of calm as you try to mitigate the crisis at hand.
Take time to evaluate your current community pulse and how it’s growing. Some questions to consider:
- Are you supporting your local businesses?
- Are you building your social media feed to raise your own community awareness and stretch your insights past your comfort zone?
- Do you regularly engage with your community on social media and through other channels?
- Do you give back, either monetarily or with time and effort, to causes important to your community?