While we’re proud of the work we do for all of our clients, a few years ago we had an opportunity to do some “marketing” that had an especially important impact. I write about it now not to focus any attention on our efforts, but rather to point out the power (and the satisfaction) of bringing skills previously used exclusively for business purposes to bear on crisis communication.
Just over three years ago, on June 26th, 2012, the devastating Waldo Canyon fire tore through the Colorado Springs neighborhood of Mountain Shadows, tragically claiming two lives and destroying 347 homes in a matter of hours. Relief efforts began immediately and a citizen-led, non-profit called Colorado Springs Together (CST) was formed to help spearhead the community’s recovery.
When CST founder Bob Cutter reached out to 30dps asking if we could help by developing a brand that would unite and a website that would serve as a communications focal point for displaced families and their loved ones, we jumped at the chance. It hit me as we began mobilizing our resources for this project that business people work so hard to “keep our eyes on the prize” that we never consider the other ways that our skills—web design, copywriting, project management, video production, etc.—could be utilized.
The rest of the Mountain Shadows story is detailed in a case study if you have an interest in checking it out. But I’ll summarize it by saying that the website that came online within a week and, thereafter featured unique and relevant content, real-time updates to keep everyone affected by the tragedy well-informed, along with daily email blasts and social media posts, proved to be very helpful and reassuring to a stunned community. And my team was humbled and honored to have played a small role in the healing process.
My takeaways from the experience?
- When egos and politics are put on hold, and caring folks unite around an important cause, some great things can happen.
- Strong leadership, especially in times of disaster, is something for which there is no substitute (and Bob Cutter was an amazing leader).
- At its worst, marketing is a discipline that tries to make bad products look good. At its best, marketing is a discipline that can educate, inform, and move people to take action.
- While I’m thankful for what our government does for us, it was extremely gratifying to see average citizens join forces to make a difference.
- Some of the most gratifying business you will ever do isn’t business at all.
Where and when might your skills and abilities be needed some day? It’s hard to say, but knowing that you might indeed be called upon makes you want to work a little harder to keep them sharp... because, at least for us, being involved in helping the good people of Mountain Shadows was some of the most meaningful and rewarding work we've ever done.