Community Connections – Harvey Style
We gathered in the office the Tuesday after Harvey made landfall on our beloved Texas coast. We sat, scattered around the room, sipping coffee. There was a mutual knowledge that, despite the amount of work we needed to do, we weren’t going to get any of it done. Our minds were far away from strategic communications, media relations, and message development. Our hearts were with the towns we had grown to love. Several communities adjacent to Corpus Christi suffered incredible damage as the eye of Hurricane Harvey passed over and Houston, at the time, was getting inundated with catastrophic flooding.
Each of us had emotional ties to the places affected. Our favorite spots in Houston and along the Texas coast had either been crushed by Harvey’s winds, or overwhelmed by the devastating floods. We didn’t know what to do or how to help. We didn’t have boats to drive in Houston or chainsaws to help our coastal neighbors.
At our brand launch in May, we also launched a new part of our company called “Community Connections.” KCS|PR is pledging to donate 1% of their annual earnings to a local non-profit. As our business grows, so will our contributions. However, we know that while monetary contributions are needed, involvement in connecting our communities was paramount.
Finally, the hashtag we placed in all of our social media since the re-brand, #ConnectWithSomethingNew emerged in our minds. And we realized what we, as a company could do. We could connect people with opportunities to volunteer, or donate to Harvey Relief.
Immediately, we created a new blog page on our website and listed out the different opportunities for people to help. We began sharing and re-tweeting every opportunity we saw on social media and updating the website list as quickly as we could. We even had to apologize for spamming people’s Facebook feed. But were we really sorry? Not particularly. We were literally connecting communities.
Soon, the images flooding our social media feeds were of those handing out water to thirsty first responders, or a plate of food to weary residents. We saw photos of “regular Joe’s” driving their boats through Houston picking up stranded residents. We saw people, utilizing their specific set of talents of cooking, construction, making coffee, organizing donations…and communicating. We used our talents as public relations professionals to communicate important details from the local government and volunteering opportunities to re-build the towns that were demolished by Harvey.
Not only did we connect people to the available opportunities, we took part in those opportunities. Throughout the week, we were able to go out to the towns that were affected and help through serving meals, clearing tree branches, helping residents find their belongings among the piles that used to be their homes.
Office work has resumed to normal this week at KCS|PR. After all, when our clients get back to work – so must we. All the while feeling guilty, knowing that people are still suffering in the communities that surround us. We know the work is not finished yet, and that it is going to be a long time until things get back to “normal” for our neighbors. As the recovery hype dies down, we will continue sharing opportunities we find on Facebook and Twitter to volunteer and donate. Not only that, but we will continue reaching out to the communities and providing aid where we are able. KCS|PR is in it for the long-haul. We are with you. We will continue communicating and connecting with the Coastal Bend – our home, our friends, our family.