4 Digital Strategies to Build Community During the Coronavirus Event

Thrust into a crisis response effort, destination organizations around North America are working to support their communities as the coronavirus event evolves.

The rapidly-changing nature of the coronavirus event makes a coordinated response challenging. Tempest's CRM and marketing experts have been working with destinations to manage the needs of communities around the US and Canada.

Leveraging iDSS and destination websites, it is possible to quickly scale a digital response that can help manage information about how your local community can come together in an effort to support the neighborhood businesses that make your destination unique.  

1.Set Up Systems

Setting up smart systems will make it easy for partners to reach you.

Simple Website Form
Create a quick, easy-to-submit form to capture information from local businesses impacted by COVID-19, such as current hours of operation, take out and delivery, or online stores. This allows all local businesses to share information directly with you on a simple web page. As local businesses fill out the form, staff at the destination organization can enter that information into the CRM system or the website.

A website form encouraging local businesses to share information.

CRM Extranet
If you're using iDSS, there are two different ways you can leverage the CRM to capture and share information about local businesses. One option is to create a COVID-19 category in your business directory, which you or your partners can use to share business information specific to the coronavirus event.

You can also quickly repurpose the Deals feature of the CRM to help businesses quickly update what they are offering. Partners can log in to the Extranet and submit a deal or offer. It's important to note that under today's circumstances, a "deal" can include:

  • Take out and delivery
  • Online shopping
  • Delivery by mail 
  • Other services, like dog walking or child care

Once partners submit their information using the Deals feature, you can then populate the offers on a web page. This is a visual and engaging way to showcase local businesses that are open and serving customers during the coronavirus event.

2. Foster Engagement

Send consistent, communicative emails to partners letting them know what resources you've created.

Communication is key. It's important to tell your partners about the resources you've created, and show them how you're using this information. Visit Sedona has been doing a great job reaching out to their partners, helping them understand how the website has been updated and how the organization is supporting local businesses:

Visit Sedona is using email to help partners identify what information to share during the COVID-19 event.

Make sure you are reaching out to all of your partners! If you are using the iDSS CRM, you can quickly run a "Contacts Active" query, which will pull a full list of active contacts in your full database. From that query, you can then create a new distribution list for your email outreach efforts - ensuring you don't miss any partners.

Keep in mind your partners are dealing with a flood of information as well, so be sure to send regular email communication to ensure all partners are aware of what you are doing to support them - and how they can get involved.

3. Update COVID-19 Content

Be a reliable, consistent resource for your community by updating your website content often. Tying your website content to your CRM data will help streamline this process, and help you efficiently manage your content as the coronavirus event continues to unfold. 

Make sure you are updating your website content at least once daily. This will help you establish trust and authority in your community by sharing timely, helpful information. Use "last updated" date and time stamps on your content, which will help reinforce how regularly you are updating information for your audience. 

Be sure to build on your content as your needs evolve. Meet Minneapolis has done a great job building out a range of content, including lists of local businesses that are open, ways locals can get involved, how residents can practice social distancing, and much more. 

Meet Minneapolis has built a diverse content hub to support its community.

4.Market Content

Leverage your marketing expertise to promote your content as a resource for the local community. 

As the COVID-19 event impacts the budgets of destination organizations around North America, paid marketing to promote your content may not be an option for many. However, there are still creative ways you can get involved to help your community come together as the event continues to unfold. 

Sharing updates on social media is a great way to reach your local audience. The teams at Florida's Historic Coast, Visit Colorado Springs, Discover Schenectady, and Visit Jacksonville, are all posting inspiring and engaging updates on social.

View this post on Instagram

Explorers, we see you finding a way to continue adventuring from home. We can’t wait for the day you can embark on your next exploration to the Pikes Peak region. Our mountains and rivers will still be here, and when the time is right, it’s you who will bring them to life. Because the truth is, Colorado Springs isn’t the adventure — you are. #TheAdventureIsYou . . Thank you to all the explorers who submitted their at-home adventures for our video. Keep your eye out for appearances from @nctheodore @fivepeakscolorado @sbprice13 @yanyezmusic @_sophiek24 @masonwolfeee @frenchie_mahomes @not.so.plain.jane and @katrinaraeswanson! . . #VisitCOS #OlympicCityUSA #SupportTheSprings #FindAdventure #ExploreMore

A post shared by Colorado Springs (@visitcos) on

Email is also an excellent communication channel to focus on. People who have signed up to receive ongoing email messages from you want to hear what you have to say. This is an excellent time to add an email signup call to action to key pages on your site to build more reach on this owned channel while looking ahead to recovery. 

Lean on the network you've developed, particularly with local publications. Visit Roswell was able to use their relationship with a local publisher to win a prominent story about their efforts to share information on restaurants that are open during the crisis, giving this content vital exposure to the local community. 

If you are able to invest in paid marketing initiatives, look at options in digital advertising to reach high-quality audiences in your area. You may also want to consider exploring online video distribution options such as commercial placements on streaming devices, which can help you to activate the local community.

Remember: You are the experts at what makes your community special. You're also experts in marketing strategy. Use that expertise to help your community during this difficult time, and don't hesitate to reach out to our team at Tempest - we are here to support you in any way we can.