On Friday, March 13th, 2020, I threw out the window a hard and fast rule I had lived by professionally for almost 35 years… and I became a better person.
I was listening to a Community Check segment scheduled to broadcast in Chiefland later that day, and I realized it was in no way relevant. The content was about a pet event happening the following weekend in the city park.
I knew as soon as I heard it, there was no way it was going to happen.
The winds of Coronavirus were already brewing strong, but as a community we just didn’t realize it yet. I called the owner of the station and the announcer that puts the program together and asked them to shift gears. We started immediately announcing who was closing when and what businesses were doing to try and continue operating under difficult circumstances.
Around 5:00 PM that afternoon, the school closing announcements started ramping up.
On Saturday, I contacted Dave Cobb at the MARC Radio Group and we talked about what was going to happen and discussed ideas as to what we thought would be the best way to utilize our combined resources to help our communities.
We just kept coming back to the things that have always been a strength for radio – the ability to deliver local information quickly utilizing a known, comforting voice. With today’s technology, and the set up MARC Radio has put together – multiple stations reaching a wide demographic audience AND a digital news site – we felt we had all of the information bases covered to help our communities get through the tough times ahead.
The radio stations could be used to provide quick pops of information that could be updated quickly, as well as to solicit information for dissemination from/to the public. The station websites could be used to gather that information, and the digital news site, MainStreetDailyNews.com, could do in depth stories on important resources and events in the community.
Mainstreet Daily News would also be home to lists of business and organization efforts and initiatives. Our collective belief was that a “one-stop-shop” for local resources and information, especially small business and small organization requests and resources that would normally fall through the cracks, would be of paramount importance as the event unfolded.
We didn’t want to hit home runs, we wanted to hit single after single after single after single. We knew singles weren’t flashy, but they sure won ballgames.
By Sunday, MARC Radio had the information collection forms built and on each of their station’s websites. The following day the on-air promotion started. During the first few days, the MARC Radio sales staff got on the phone and started calling businesses with the message, “We aren’t calling you to sell advertising, we are calling to offer our help. What information can we put out there free of charge to try and help your business get through these hard times”.
“In our mind, SunState Federal Credit Union has no competitors right now, we are all in this together, and the quicker we all get on the same page and do what we can to help, the better off we are all going to be and the faster this will end and the faster we will recover.”
Mainstreet Daily News set up sections by business categories to keep the information available. When churches cancelled in-person services, a section was added telling congregations what alternatives were available. As with any grassroots movement, it takes a while to get things really rolling, but once it builds momentum, there is no limit to what can be accomplished.
At the credit union, we have well over 30,000 Facebook fans. At this point, in order to increase reach for the digital news stories being published on MainstreetDailyNews.com, we have started sharing selected stories. In some cases, the reach increased by a multiple of five!
We are getting the word out.
So, why is the credit union doing this? First of all, our goal is to help our members and our communities lead better lives, so doing what we can right now is just who we are and what we are here for. Second…well, just go back to number one – we just feel by helping get this initiative rolling, it is the best thing we can do to stretch our available budget out to have the most possible impact.
As all the MARC Radio personalities are saying right now – ‘together we will persevere’.
Oh, what’s the rule I threw out the window? Well, I’ll just say that some of the first messages we started putting out were announcing limited hours for a bank and another credit union in order to help keep their members and customers in the know and limit their inconvenience. You see, in our mind at this time, it is not about the institutions or competitors, it is about the people and what is best for them.
In our mind, SunState Federal Credit Union has no competitors right now, we are all in this together, and the quicker we all get on the same page and do what we can to help, the better off we are all going to be and the faster this will end and the faster we will recover.
Please, utilize the information resources MARC Media and Mainstreet Daily News have made available, ask for help or offer it if you have it to give.
Let’s hit some singles and win this ballgame!