Going through a disaster often shows what truly matters to you and your community. Located in Lake Tahoe, the team at DAE&Co, has recently lived through the Caldor wildfire disaster. As we look back, there are lessons to be learned and steps to take that help heal and move the community forward. If your community relies on tourism, like Lake Tahoe, there are additional steps to consider as you welcome visitors back.
Below are some of our top marketing and PR tips to help during times of adversity, to keep the community engaged and supportive of local businesses, and tourism.
- Focus on your community first. As a community business, it’s important that you are taking the time to connect with those that are going through the same struggles as you. All of you are in the same boat together, so make sure that you are taking the necessary steps to care for everyone’s well-being. Once you have given the help or support that they need at the time, then focus your attention on those that are hoping to visit your community. You can update them on how you, your staff, and others in your community are doing, what has been impacted by the disaster, and how you plan to move forward.
- Help others. Do you have the opportunity and ability to help others that have been impacted by the disaster? After the Caldor fire, businesses throughout our communities really stepped up offering food, lodging, and care for those who lost their homes and were evacuated. Any help you can offer shows that you truly care about helping your community move through the disaster so healing can begin. Also, you can garner additional support by sharing on your social media where help is needed and how others outside of the community can help.
- Spread the word. Lake Tahoe is special to so many people, many who live out of the area. People from all over the country have contributed funds to help support those in need during the Caldor fire. It’s heart-warming and a good reminder that people really do care and want to help. Make it as easy as possible for your past guests and fans to purchase or donate to the community. Those that are wanting to come back to the area or to visit for the first time also have the opportunity to help the community that they care about. They can donate or see what needs to be done to make the place that they love visitable again.
- Focus on the good. Oftentimes, during disasters, the news and social media focus on the devastation and sensationalize the challenges. It is important that you focus on whatever positives you can find during these times and become a beacon of light during a dark time. Focus on community cooperation, the positives with your own business, how people are getting together to overcome challenges, and how your community will grow going forward. Even though it looks bleak now, you and your community will once again thrive and will be better and stronger for overcoming adversity.
- Look to the future with honesty. Tourists know what your community had to offer before the disaster, so make sure that they know what you have to offer after. It is important they understand what is still open and what has been affected so they can make plans accordingly. Honesty is key. When tourism rebounds, and it will, it is critical that expectations are realistic.
- Create an event. With what your community has to offer, create an event with other businesses around you to bring people back together. Show everyone that your community is resilient, also allowing those that planned on visiting to be part of the celebration. This is a great time to put your marketing brain into full-swing. Get people involved and promote it. Having a community event will also help to take away the fear of the area and will shed positivity and light on a once dark situation.
- Work with local influencers. As your community comes together, now is a great time to form some local partnerships with influencers in the area. From news anchors or local celebrities to social media influencers who love your community, work with them to help spread the word about re-openings and upcoming events.
- Don’t give up on your marketing initiatives. It can be tempting to pull all ads or marketing initiatives during hard times, but keeping your momentum going is a solid investment in your future. Stay relevant and active so that no one forgets about you, but make sure your post-disaster marketing is relevant, sensitive, and topical. Use your ads to welcome people back to the area, keep your emails informative while also focusing on the future. Don’t exploit your situation or make the disaster all about you, and don’t use any assets that would appear to capitalize on someone else’s misfortune or focus on pre-disaster life. Never abandon your marketing efforts altogether. Playing “catch-up” is much more costly.
Marketing to tourists after a disaster isn’t easy, and it shouldn’t be. You and your community have been through a lot. When you feel comfortable enough to start sharing your story, we would encourage you to do that, then start to focus on what your community has in store for the future. Many tourism and hospitality businesses impacted by disasters have the chance to come back stronger than before. The connection that tourists will have to the area will reflect that as well. Those that have visited before will also reach out, hoping to help and to share in the celebration of you all pulling through this together. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those that love the area and community as much as you do.
If you are struggling with knowing what to do from a marketing perspective, how to react, or how to reach out to others after going through a disaster, we want to help! We’d love to learn more about your business and your audience to see which move would be best for you.