Since the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact businesses across the country, the Bellmont Partners team has mobilized around numerous crisis communications and non-crisis projects, most addressing the unique challenges the coronavirus outbreak has sparked, and spanning nearly every communications discipline.
We’ve been working closely with several companies on the front lines of the pandemic with a variety of strategies and implementation, from messaging to crisis communications to quick-turn, outside-the-box solutions such as remotely produced podcasts and Facebook Live townhalls. We’ve also been helping many other organizations representing nearly every industry, whose operations have been impacted at different levels, navigate this new world.
Although none of us could have predicted what the past several weeks would look like, through it all, we’ve been struck by the fact that we have the opportunity to work with truly amazing clients. These are organizations that are providing life-saving equipment and resources, pivoting very quickly to provide much-needed services, or bringing a dose of education and entertainment to people who are staying at home. While there is still a lot of work ahead, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the initiatives we’ve been proud to be part of.
From medical devices, health services and disaster preparedness…
- Digi-Key Electronics distributes electronic components for many critical medical equipment items, including parts for ventilators, non-contact thermometer devices, hand sanitizer dispensers and more. They are currently lending their support by offering premium services and free BOM management licenses for companies combating COVID-19. They are also assisting with several ventilator productions, including a partnership with the University of Minnesota, and focusing on fixing and connecting supply chain issues so that necessary parts can get to the right engineers as quickly as possible.
- Nonin Medical, the world leader in innovating and manufacturing pulse oximetry systems, is providing this essential technology being used on the front lines of early diagnosis and treatment of critically ill patients with COVID-19, as well as during recovery and aftercare, ensuring patient oxygen levels have returned to healthy levels. Nonin is also partnering with other companies producing frontline devices, providing technology that integrates with ventilators, extracorporeal life support and remote monitoring systems and other diagnostic tools.
- Our newest client, Clothier Design Source, a full-service apparel design and manufacturing company based in St. Paul, Minn., is shifting its focus to not only produce masks, but to help innovators across the country design, source and produce other life-saving personal protection gear for healthcare workers. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Clothier helped launch more than 300 fashion and clothing brands each year. Today, thanks to its nimble team of 30 employees and design-sourcing-production capabilities, Clothier is able to produce much-needed healthcare items, including PAPR (powered, air-purifying respirator) hoods and face masks. And, as an additional way to give back and allow others to get involved, they’ve launched the “Be Silly Project” on social media, which encourages followers to take part in challenges such as “wear a face mask for a real mask.” For this campaign, people are encouraged to post pictures in their face masks while nominating their friends to do the same. If the nominees don’t complete the challenge within 24 hours, they are encouraged to donate $24 to go towards supplies and support for front-line healthcare workers.
- People Incorporated Mental Health Services is offering telemedicine mental health assessment, therapy and case management appointments to help ensure its clients’ mental health needs are met during this difficult time. Additionally, the People Incorporated Training Institute is offering a free Resiliency Skills Amid COVID-19 online class to support the community throughout the month of April. The class is open to the general community, as well as professionals in the mental health and social services fields who are looking to earn CEUs.
- R3 Continuum (R3c), a global leader in disruptive event management and workplace behavioral health that’s helped companies prepare and navigate public health crises, natural disasters, workplace violence incidents and more for the past 30 years, has been putting all its specialties to use to help companies navigate COVID-19. Early in March, R3c formalized a COVID-19 Support Team, which includes occupational medicine, infectious disease, emergency department physicians, crisis management specialists, public health experts, corporate medical directors, risk management professionals, Ph.D.’s in psychology and organizational human resource development, federal officers, security directors and emergency management directors. R3c leaders have also shared tips for business leaders, including in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal and via the Society of Human Resource Management, as well as thoughtful perspective on hope during dark times.
- Health benefits company Gravie is doing what they do best: helping employers and employees navigate the tough and confusing aspects of their health benefits – guiding members to online heath resources, COVID-19 resources and more. They are the first and only Minnesota-based insurance company to offer temporary relief for critically impacted industries, offering fee deferrals or, in some cases, outright reductions in fees.
…to critical resources and services…
- Second Harvest Heartland has responded to COVID-19 quickly, more innovative and efficient than ever. Their ambitious plan to address the increasing rate of hunger due to the pandemic includes committing to 200,000 emergency food boxes that are distributed to food shelf and meal partners; joining forces with local caterers and restaurants to launch Minnesota Central Kitchen, which distributes thousands of meals per day in partnership with Loaves & Fishes; and working to ensure that everyone who is eligible for SNAP benefits can access them. CEO Allison O’Toole and other Minnesota hunger-sector leaders are giving weekly progress updates to the community each Tuesday morning via Zoom and Facebook Live.
- Midwest Dairy is working to ensure that children in need continue receiving school meals during the school closures. They have provided schools across the Midwest with coolers to help schools continue to serve cold milk and dairy products throughout the COVID-19 crisis, and the organization has also partnered with NutriStudents K‑12 to offer a free resource for schools with menu options that can be used for emergency delivered meals. In addition, Midwest Dairy farmers have committed funds to support the COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Fund, established by GENYOUth Foundation, allowing schools nationwide to apply for cash grants so they can purchase resources needed for meal distribution and delivery. Midwest Dairy has also compiled learning resources for families who are looking for educational activities while staying at home, including activities such as a virtual farm tour.
…to entertainment and education…
- Instead of canceling Wordplay, the book festival originally slated for May, the team at The Loft Literary Center decided to hold Wordplay virtually, bringing book lovers together from all over the world from the comfort of their homes. The virtual events include author interviews, interactive Q&As, social media takeovers, happy hours and more. The festival officially kicked off April 7 with a live talk from Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins, and was included in a New York Times piece about online celebrations during National Poetry Month. More details here.
- The Lacek Group is a globally recognized leader in loyalty, customer engagement and data-driven communications. They shared some thoughts with Target Marketing about how brand partnerships benefit both marketers and their customers during a crisis, and how to maintain brand loyalty during a pandemic with Promotion World.
- As living rooms across the country transform into classrooms, The O’Neill Brothers (piano-playing brothers Tim and Ryan O’Neill) have provided parents a free educational tool: their instrumental music – specifically selected to facilitate learning. The 2019 Minnesota Music Hall of Fame inductees – who are #4 on Spotify’s list of the most-streamed Minnesota acts of all time – have compiled free study-time playlists of their award-winning songs to make it easy for parents to click and let the music play to set the tone for studying at home. You can find playlists for Spotify, Pandora, YouTube and Twitter here, or at pianobrothers.com/studymusic. Tim O’Neill chatted with WCCO Mid-Morning on April 8 about the benefits of instrumental music, including how it can help boost memory and concentration.
- Brave New Workshop, the country’s longest-running satirical comedy theatre, continues to bring smiles to people’s faces through this tough time. The Minneapolis-based organization launched a phenomenal new video series (“The Brave New Workshop Goes Viral”), and co-owner John Sweeney dusted off one of his most beloved characters to inspire Minnesotans to stay at home. On April 1, FOX Sports North replayed one of the most memorable Timberwolves games, notable as Kevin Garnett’s first game back after returning to the Wolves on Feb. 25, 2015, but also marking the crowd-favorite return of Jiggly Boy. Five years ago, Sweeney’s superfan sparked an online frenzy after his antics got even KG’s attention. The amazing video has inspired hundreds of millions of smiles all over the world, Jiggly Boy has fielded interview requests from as far away as Japan, and NBA-TV named him one of the NBA’s top fans of the year. On April 1, Sweeney reprised the character on the Timberwolves’ social media platforms with an important message for his fellow Minnesotans displayed in a very conspicuous way: #StayHomeMN.
We continue to amazed by the determination and innovation from our clients as they help the community navigate COVID-19, and the many other companies, partners and friends we’ve consulted with in the past month. We’re proud to be part of communities that are coming together during this uncertain time and are happy to do what we can to help. As these unique, trying times continue, we’re committed to helping even more organizations navigate and pivot. If you’d like to chat about a challenge your business is facing, a project in the works or what needs to change in your communications strategies going forward, we’d be happy to schedule a free consultation – just drop us a line to set up a time.