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Marketers: We Can Do Better Than Words with Action

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d send an email with the subject line: USA on Fire – What are we doing? What do we say?

My message started with: “The past few days have been tragic and surreal to say the least. I feel we have an obligation to address this internally and in some way, externally. At the same time, I am not 100% clear on what to say.”

I share this because I think a lot of individuals like myself who basically live in a bubble, but are in a position to affect change and have the motivation to do so felt the same way. Who am I to say anything at all?

While I live in Minnesota, I am in the suburbs and was nowhere near any of the protests and rioting that went on in Minneapolis this past week. Watching events on a small screen made it all seem so distant.

And yet the tragedy of George Floyd was visceral.

That feeling turned to action in hundreds of cities in the U.S. and around the world. The pain felt by so many was impossible to ignore but what could we do as a small company?

I thought Target CEO Brian Cornell was inspiring with his letter, A Note From Brian Cornell to Our Teams and Communities in the Twin Cities and Beyond. He didn’t speak in platitudes but about action.

Are we simply going to agree that change needs to happen and then go back to our bubble of privilege or actually do something? No. Brands (and Agencies) Can Do Better Than Platitudes and Statements, Especially Now, resonated with me.

As I was thinking about all of the ways we could elevate good intentions to actions, members of my team were already involved in different ways from donating food to being involved in peaceful protests. For those in the Twin Cities looking for ways to support the community, this curated list from the Minneapolis Star Tribune is helpful: Need help? Want to help? Twin Cities groups offer resources for folks hurt by riots.

We are a small company with a headcount in the 20’s but with the digital footprint of a much larger organization thanks to social media, speaking events, earned media and industry involvement. We’re also a company that has values of importance to our culture and who we are to each other, to clients, our community and the world at large.

None of us thinks it’s ok that there are such blatant inequalities and injustices in the world and yet all of us are not proactively doing something about it. The tragedy of George Floyd after so many others struck a chord and unleashed action like we’ve never really seen before.

We can all agree that there has to be a change and that we can all play a part in some way, large or small.

Short term there are cleanup opportunities, mid term there are organizational and community support opportunities and through it all there are opportunities to impact equality, inclusiveness and to heal.

As a company we are looking at ways we can be a part of the positive change that needs to happen in our society from supporting BLM to our own D&I efforts as well as opportunities where we can have an immediate impact.

Things like focusing on supporting the people affected by the more than 360 businesses providing essential supplies to their communities across the Twin Cities that have been vandalized, looted or had doors and windows smashed. Without access to those essentials, many people are in need.

Our agency is donating the most needed supplies to those Minneapolis neighborhoods affected and members of our team are donating as well. But there is so much more we can do.

Lane’s post yesterday about thankfulness truly resonated as we are thankful for the privilege of working with each other, with some of the top B2B brands and marketers in the world and for the opportunity to work in an industry that allows us to do great work that inspires people. We’re also hopeful to see a tragedy evolve into inspiration for change in so many ways.

We don’t have all the answers and we’re still figuring many things out. But we are committed to playing a part in the change that needs to happen.

Lee Odden: @LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.
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