"Slow-moving, record-shattering." That's what the New York Times has called Hurricane Harvey. In case you're just tuning in now, the last six days have brought devastation to southern Texas.
Setting a record for total rainfall from a single tropical storm in the US, Harvey made landfall on Friday as a Category 4 storm. Comparisons to Katrina were already being made within the first few hours (with attentive acknowledgement of the two storms' differences).
The rain is still falling. Rivers are still rising. The death toll continues to climb. Residents are still stranded, and those rescued will be looking for their loved ones for days to come.
Writing about events like these comes with a great responsibility. Deciding to write about this at all was a careful decision.
There's no agency spin on this. There's no clever talk about what this means for the industry. What has and continues to unfold in the Gulf of Mexico is a tragedy, and we urge everyone reading this to do what they can to help.
Read on here to find out how you can help.
With all of this said, we decided to proceed with caution, and mention one positive thing that has happened in light of these events: brands stepping up to help and their obligation to do so.
The stories about civilian heroes keep surfacing as the storm wages on. They're incredibly inspiring and we highly recommend a read (seriously, grab some tissues and be prepared to restore your faith in humanity).
In addition to civilians becoming first responders, some companies have too realized that they have a role to play.
Many brands used their social channels to encourage the public to donate to relief efforts. But some brands went above and beyond.
This is what captured our minutes this week.
We're not going to deny the obvious. Brands contributing to their communities, especially during times of dire need, looks great on them. No one should expect companies to be altruistic.
But helping their customers during what is likely the most difficult days of their lives doesn't hurt anyone. And let's not forget that reps of these companies entering disaster zones are literally putting their lives in danger. That's commendable, if you ask us.
Plenty of major brands pledged large donations to relief efforts this week, including Apple, Google, Facebook, PepsiCo and Coca Cola. See a more extensive list here.
Other brands called their customers to action and sent teams and supplies into the affected regions. Here's a mention of a few:
1. Airbnb activated its "Urgent Accommodations" program, allowing those in need of temporary stay to connect with hosts who are opening their homes free of charge.
Airbnb has activated our host community to open their homes for $0 for those evacuating for Hurricane Harvey. https://t.co/bSXZPgh1HE— Airbnb Help (@AirbnbHelp) August 25, 2017
2. Amazon-Whole Foods announced it will be matching all donations made on Amazon's website up to $1 million. Funds raised will be donated to Hurricane Harvey relief set up by the American Red Cross.
3. AT&T is waiving fees for customers impacted by the hurricane, issuing credits to cover additional data, voice and text charges. They've also taken to social media to assure customers their Disaster Recovery Team is working around the clock to maintain network coverage, and provide wifi and charging stations. Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint have all also offered the same credits and assurances to its customers.
4. Chobani is loading up trucks with the company's famous yogurt, sending it to communities across Texas, according to founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya.
5. Southwest Airlines gave 500 customers stranded in Houston's Hobby Airport a free flight out on Sunday.
6. Duracell has sent teams of reps to hand out free batteries.
7. Walmart shipped 795 emergency truckloads of supplies.
Update: We've shipped 795 emergency truckloads 🚚 of supplies, mainly water to S. TX & 1700 truckloads 🚚 are due to arrive in the next week!— Walmart Action (@WalmartAction) August 27, 2017
8. Anheuser-Busch halted beer production to supply shelters with 155,000 cans of water, following suit with their response to the California wildfires, Hurricane Matthew and other past disasters.
If civilians can drive their own boats into disaster zones to save stranded residents, multinational brands can contribute their resources. Doing so is a no-brainer, and that's what we've seen this week.
Customers will remember the brands that were there for them when they needed them most. That took up the task of assisting relief organizations instead of standing idly by. That put purpose before product, if at least only for moments like these.
At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.
What will win this week?
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