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23 Sep 2016

MarCom Mumblings: Overcoming an Event Failure

Public events are an integral part of shaping and honing your organization’s perception within the community (or communities) it serves. Not only does it provide goodwill, but top of mind is an important marketing strategy, and one that we never take for granted in the financial industry.

The financial institution I work for has locations in many small local communities, so one of the ways we give back is by offering free shred days to everyone, members and non-members alike. These events allow us to meet lots of potential members and get facetime with our longtime regulars. And, to be honest, they’ve always been a great success; until the unthinkable happened last spring.

Our regularly scheduled shred day started out promising, members were lined up at the branch before the truck even showed up, boxes and bags of shred in hand, as well as donations for a local animal shelter. We were pumped! The smiles on our faces quickly faded however, when we realized the shred truck wasn’t coming. Why? Because it had never been ordered. Now, when things like this happen, it’s easy to play the blame game and start pointing fingers, but when you’ve got a herd of irritable folks waving sacks of shred in your face, it’s time to buckle in and get to work. After calling every shred company in the area with no luck, we had to act fast. A run to Home Depot provided large garbage bins and construction grade plastic bags. Our facilities crew even hurried out and put a special lock on the breakroom door of the branch. We quickly fell into a rhythm, telling members this was going EXACTLY as planned, and making the most of it.

The day was long and stressful, but it turned out to be our most successful shred day at that location ever! Even though we had to wait for a shred truck to come after the fact, our team was able to face the odds and turn a disaster into a rousing success, even raising a record number of donations for the animal shelter.

After all was said and done, we came away with our fair share of lessons, number one being always double check with the shred company. We also learned that sometimes your plans will completely fall through and it’s incredibly important to be diligent about having a backup, especially when a disaster could affect your members. Lastly, we learned to throw expectations out the window and roll with the punches to get the job done; and I think that’s the most important lesson of all.


By Jennifer Ash, Spokane MarCom Sponsorship Chair