These days, when it comes to digital marketing, consumers and online audiences are attracted to honorable brand values and a commitment to action. It’s a brand’s mission and the people behind it that keep consumers coming back for more.
This last year and a half, the people behind the brands you know and love were the people who worked through fear, adversity and the unknown to keep the lights on, shelves stocked, and their customers happy at home. In a time when so many of us couldn’t leave our homes, see our loved ones, travel or be social, we honor and recognize those who had to clock in every day and push through to help their communities.
We asked four passionate, dedicated clients how they worked with their customers and communities to share powerful human-centered stories over the course of 2020 and early 2021 and they all clearly agreed: supporting and listening to one another this past year and a half was invaluable. Authentic storytelling was a must, as we have continued to live through this unimaginable shared global experience. Read on to hear how consumer brands and non-profit organizations alike worked with heart to make a real difference.
The following is directly from John J. Kelly III, the Senior Managing Photographer at FreshDirect:
Toward the beginning of 2020, we began a partnership with a charitable organization based in Manhattan called New York Common Pantry, which provides food to the food insecure, including homeless communities in Manhattan and the Bronx.
When the pandemic-induced lockdowns began, their service became more critically-needed than ever. Simultaneously, the majority of their volunteer base, consisting primarily of corporate office employees, virtually disappeared. Additionally, residents of New York City public housing were in need of food and faced critical health risks trying to obtain it for themselves. The City, in cooperation with the five Borough Presidents, created a program called “Operation Five Borough Food Drive,” to which we donated 300,000 boxes of food to New Yorkers in need. We redoubled our fundraising and food donation efforts for New York Common Pantry. Individual donations from our customers totaling $3million allowed them to feed 400,000 people.
A significant portion of my efforts last year went to documenting donation events across the city, showing the scale of need as well as the effort and dedication of the volunteers risking their own health to help others. We shared these images and stories with our customers, allowing them to see the results of the charitable work that was made possible by their patronage. This experience helped enrich the relationship between FreshDirect and its customers. It also laid the foundation for a stronger relationship between FreshDirect, its customers, and the broader community of New York City, our home turf.
As the pandemic changed us from an ofttimes mundane necessity of everyday life to an “essential service,” we were challenged to differentiate our primarily virtual service by introducing and acknowledging the people responsible for providing that service to our customers. These employees were asked to put themselves at unknown personal risk to serve our customers. Many of the employees honored publicly are accustomed to working out of public view and are very humble. However, they were grateful for the acknowledgement of their exceptional effort, most of which preceded the pandemic and will continue after it has ended.
With most of our corporate staff working remotely for the past year, having a centralized location from which to share content was critical. It turned out to be unintentionally serendipitous that we had already adopted and been using PhotoShelter for several years when the pandemic hit.
Having a cloud-based asset management system meant a virtually seamless transition from working on-site in the office to working from home. Our in-house photos were accessible with the same ease for all of our team members, regardless of where they were geographically. During the past year, there were many components of our workflow that were dramatically altered or significantly hindered by circumstances beyond our control. PhotoShelter, thankfully, was not one of them.
Over the course of this last year, the team at The Bowery Mission launched a special campaign celebrating their frontline workers, who have faithfully cared for New Yorkers without a home through the entire pandemic.
Referred to as The Bowery COVID Heroes, these essential workers and volunteers have shown up in support of their community, dedicated their time and sacrificed their health and safety to care for New Yorkers in need.
“I’ve grown so much from this experience — mentally, spiritually, professionally, as a man. Twenty to 30 years down the line, I can tell my kids and their kids: this is what compassion is about. This is what caring for people is about. This is what the gospel is about: it’s for service.” – Christian Harbin, Clinical Ambassador at The Bowery Mission
This project is ongoing and the team at The Bowery Mission is caring for the homeless and the hungry all year round. After all, they have been “Rebuilding Hope Since the 1870s.” The Bowery Mission’s dedicated COVID Heroes Hub includes staff interviews, moving videos, and additional information on how to get involved.
Through it all, a reliable digital asset management system has been an important element for organizing the visual storytelling aspect of this campaign, such as photos, video interviews and more, which they collected throughout the pandemic. Documenting the process is one step toward being prepared for the future.
“PhotoShelter certainly supported our ability to store and curate content for this project effectively.” – Laura Childers, Content Manager at The Bowery Mission
We’re proud to play even the smallest part in this selfless organization’s story.
The following is directly from Maggie Schoenfarber, Director of Content Strategy & Development at The James Beard Foundation:
More than ever, our messaging in 2020 was about the people behind the food and beverage industry. We had several campaigns that were grounded in the stories of individuals and organizations that were facing incredible challenges while still supporting their communities.
The first ones that come to mind are our Food and Beverage Investment Fund for Black and Indigenous Americans, where 37 Black and Indigenous majority-owned businesses (from breweries to food trucks to caterers and all that’s in between) received $15,000 grants each. It’s an ongoing fund that we’re continuing to raise money for in the hopes of disbursing more grants soon.
Back in April we highlighted all 37 businesses through the photos and videos the grantees shared with us, putting faces to names and showing how integral these businesses are to their local communities.
Our #savechineserestaurants, a UGC Instagram campaign in collaboration with JBF Award-winning cookbook author Grace Young has also been visually driven and such a critical way to communicate with our audience about the rise of racism and hate around AAPI-owned, and especially Chinese-American restaurants.
“Our new mission says it all: The James Beard Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to celebrate, support, and elevate the people behind America’s food culture and champion a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity, and sustainability.”Maggie Schoenfarber, Director of Content Strategy & Development at The James Beard Foundation
Food and beverage workers, from farmworkers to mixologists, make up not only a huge part of our nation’s economy and culture, but also your local community. Their work is sustaining not only for our bodies, but for our souls, and the pandemic revealed the inequities in the industry, and how much our organization needs to push for change and provide resources and training to continue to champion that standard of good food that goes beyond the plate.
The following is directly from Andy Meholick, Copywriter and Storyteller at Hungry Harry’s:
Shining a spotlight on the lives of the food allergy community has always been essential for us in our mission to make allergy-friendly easy. At the beginning of 2021, we partnered with FARE to give back to our community members experiencing food insecurity. We donated over 400 packages of our allergy-friendly baking mixes to FARE TAG (Teen Advisory Group) Members to distribute to their local food shelters across the U.S.
The food allergy community is a fiercely supportive group of extraordinary people. There are so many success stories to celebrate and share, but 2020 drew attention to the need to focus on food insecurity within this community. It is challenging enough to be food insecure, let alone when you have food allergies! The FARE TAG Members rallied to support their local food banks, and in early 2021 worked with Hungry Harry’s to ensure those in need had access to allergy-friendly foods.
We asked all of the FARE TAG members to photograph both the delivery and distribution of the FARE Care Packs. Hungry Harry’s made each of the TAG members contributors so that they could easily upload their photos using PhotoShelter’s mobile uploader directly into our account. This allowed us to organize, edit and and re-share these photos in a timely manner directly from our PhotoShelter account.
Related content: The Strategy Behind Hungry Harry’s Eye-Catching Brand
It goes without saying that caring for your community and lending a helping hand is more important now than ever before. For brands and creative teams, actions speak louder than words. It’s the authentic storytelling that creates lasting connections in this digital age and remote work environment. At a time like this, these are the stories that matter most.
How is your team living out your brand mission and highlighting the people who make your company shine? How are you lifting up your local community and those in need? Tag us @psforbrands on Twitter or Instagram and let us know. We would love to hear your story!