Working Together, Serving Together: How One Utility Company Is Stepping Up Community Relations During the COVID-19 Crisis
A partnership with Georgia Natural Gas and TEGNA station WXIA in Atlanta has been a bright spot amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the story of how their joint knowledge of the community, marketing, and communication, was able to help thousands of high-risk seniors in the community.
As Americans continue to deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis that is gripping the globe, stories of hardships and perilous economic times abound. The unemployment rate reached 14.7% in April, while the U.S. economy shed 20 million jobs in the wake of the pandemic. Leading financial firms like Goldman Sachs are forecasting the unemployment rate could reach as high as 25% – mirroring the average peak rate in 1933 during the Great Depression.
On a brighter note, we are learning that help, caring, and concern can come from the most unlikely of places during times like these. One example is a place like Georgia Natural Gas, a residential and commercial gas utility serving the state of Georgia.
Involving the Community in a Time of Need
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, leadership at Georgia Natural Gas convened in a business continuity meeting to discuss their response to the emerging crisis. Part of that response was planning customer and community communications.
Long before the pandemic, Georgia Natural Gas has always made community involvement and participation part of their overall mission. According to Maurice “Mo” Baker, Manager of Community Relations, “For years, our focus areas have been children and education, seniors, energy assistance, and the environment.”
As such, a robust communication strategy and effective platforms have always been a key tenant to their community approach. This has never been more important than during COVID-19 when it was even more critical for Georgia Natural Gas to communicate with seniors – one of their key community stakeholder groups.
Involving the Right Marketing Partner
A strong marketing and media partner that brings creativity, vision, voice, and strategy to the table is invaluable to a company like Georgia Natural Gas. That’s why the company leans heavily on TEGNA and its Atlanta property, 11Alive. With the help of Account Executives Bailey Symington and Marla Rich, 11Alive built custom communications for Georgia Natural Gas specifically focused on its key target, senior citizens.
“It’s incredibly rewarding to help clients like Georgia Natural Gas with multi-platform solutions that address their needs,” says Rich. “We work closely with businesses’ marketing, public relations, and corporate social responsibility departments to develop long term partnerships that benefit the bottom line.”
Adds Symington, “Just like we do with all our clients, we treat the Georgia Natural Gas business as our own. Working hand in hand with Mo, we were able to generate insights and ideas specific to challenges Georgia Natural Gas was facing.”
Serving the Community in a Time of Need
When Atlanta’s local Meals On Wheels was forced to cut funding during the crisis, Georgia Natural Gas stepped up with immediate emergency funding that helped provide over 6,200 meals to Atlanta-area seniors, many of whom were too frightened to leave their homes for the grocery store. TEGNA and 11Alive developed custom creative to amplify the initiative, which you can view here.
“We’re all happy with where we landed and as the campaign progresses, we’ll review all measurable results to learn what worked and where we should head next,” closed Rich.
The support doesn’t stop there. Georgia Natural Gas is also supporting other local non-profits like The Giving Kitchen – an organization that provides food service workers with financial support and other resources.
People and businesses coming together for the good of their communities during times of crisis is a rainbow that appears in the storm of hardships that we all share. Georgia Natural Gas and 11Alive know that well, and don’t hesitate to leverage their joint knowledge of the community, marketing, and communication to make that rainbow appear.