It’s been about six weeks since the devastating flood waters hit southern Alberta. I have had lots of time to think and reflect. Community support across the area was unbelievable-absolutely unbelievable. It was true western Canadian community commitment. People, both young and old, came from near and far. They took time off work and made a difference. They cleaned up strangers’ homes. They worked side by side with people they did not know to help devastated families whom they also did not know. The herculean work of these volunteers was (and continues to be) amazing.
Some companies stepped up to the plate as well. Tim Horton’s sold a special Wild Rose donut in its Alberta stores to aid flood relief. Then above and beyond that, the company donated $100,000 to the Canadian Red Cross flood relief effort. Locally in Calgary, Shane Homes set aside $100,000; Suncor Energy committed up to $250,000; Duracell was onsite with its Power Forward Fleet to support the relief work; Wal-Mart contributed as always; and Boston Pizza ran a national program with $5 from every pizza sold nationwide going to the relief project, and corporate matching for whatever was raised. The financial institutions (at least most of them) came forward with cash, but also with support programs such as mortgage payment relief, financial support for rebuilding, etc. And the Calgary Flames Hockey Club, which had major flooding of its own, stepped up with a $1 million donation to the Red Cross relief effort.
The one group that was absent from my radar was the media companies. (Perhaps they were there and I just never saw or heard about their support-perhaps I missed it… but not likely!). These companies reaped massive additional revenue during a typically slow season. Small and large businesses ran full-page ads in the Calgary Herald and other newspapers. TV and radio proliferated with information about offers, condolences, and government messaging. Many additional millions of dollars in revenue were generated for these media companies. But I saw no public financial support from the CTV conglomerate (TV, radio, print), Calgary-based Shaw Communications (radio, TV, newspaper), or even Rogers (magazines, TV, radio). These three companies spend millions promoting themselves and building affinity to properties through sponsorship. They invest in sponsorship, they activate, and they leverage. But when the community needed their support and the opportunity was ripe for them to have a huge effect, these three major conglomerates failed to seize the opportunity to make people say “Wow, they made a difference!” Even Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was able to build further support as he campaigned throughout the flooding; built his brand, and mounted his re-election effort through continuous profile and public speaking during the key four days of flooding. Perhaps though, the three major media companies don’t need the goodwill or affinity, or aren’t seeking re-election.
These are just one person’s thoughts. Yours are welcomed as well. Please add your thoughts or comments below. Thank you for reading and your feedback.