This article orginally appeared in Northwest Weekly
When the Carlton Complex fire hit, Washington Trust, Spokane, quickly found ways to transition its marketing efforts to relief efforts. With branches throughout north central Washington, the $4 billion bank and its marketing team went to work in the communities affected by the fire.
“Long before the fire knocked on our door, we had a bunch of events planned in the community – we had what we called a grocery grab giveaway,” said Ingrid Campbell, marketing director at Washington Trust. Participants had a certain amount of time to go through a local grocery store and fill up their cart with food. The bank decided to take whatever the winners collected and donate the cash value back to the fire victims.
Campbell and her team were also working with the Wenatchee AppleSox Baseball Club, where a particularly emotional moment for Campbell occurred during one of the bank’s giveaways at a game in July.
“We gave away a bunch of gift cards to a local grocery store, and it brings tears to my eyes, the people who won it, gave it back to us and said ‘Please use this for the fire victims’. So we went back to the grocery store and used all of those gift cards to fill up a truckload of groceries,” Campbell said.
What may be the most impressive piece of the bank’s outreach to victims involved their mobile marketing bus which had already been serving as command central for numerous community activities. Because of its many amenities, the bus was able to function as a veritable ‘food truck’ for those affected by the fire.
“Think RV meets 18 wheeler – very comfy on the inside, and it has a huge barbecue that goes with it,” Campbell said.
During the fire, Campbell and her team filled the bus full of food and drove it to the fire victims and volunteer workers where they spent four days feeding people.
“It was so incredible to support the community in that way,” Campbell said.
The mobile bus is also equipped with an ATM, which allowed fire victims access to money and check cashing.
“If they weren’t customers, we refunded their ATM fee,” Campbell said, “We couldn’t tell at the moment what type of account they had, so we just handed them $3.00 in cash. You don’t think about that in listening to the stories about the fire – that they can’t get cash, they can’t get to the bank, so to provide that service and do that for free, it was awesome.”
Plans are also in the works for converting the bus into a full-service mobile branch that would help serve the banking needs of some of Washington Trust’s rural customers.
“Part of the idea would be to drive it to big pockets of customers where they could conduct banking business,” Campbell said. “That’s the ultimate goal.”
For the time being, the bus is serving the community in what Campbell says is the best way it can.
“Our biggest impact was our ability to leverage what was happening in that region already to do a lot to benefit the victims,” Campbell said.
This article was written by: May O’Mahoney.
To read the full article please visit Northwest Weekly at http://thenorthwestweekly.com/issue/northwest-weekly/article/washington-trusts-marketing-efforts-transition-to-relief-efforts
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