A food chain giant demonstrated a significant corporate change in message in the wake of the Florida tragedy. Did you hear it? It’s important to note that in the midst of such a horrible event, the positive can sometimes get lost. In the days following the June 2016 mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the city experienced an outpouring of support from around the world. Residents lined up to donate blood to victims, and several local businesses offered food, counseling, and other assistance following one of the deadliest shootings in recent history.
Among the supportive businesses was restaurant chain Chick-fil-A, a company that has garnered a reputation for being “anti-gay” due to president Dan Cathy’s previous statements against marriage equality and the company’s donations to anti-gay groups. Employees at local outlets of the chain went to work on Sunday morning (even though the company has been observing the Sabbath by remaining closed on Sundays since 1946) in order to provide free food to those who were donating blood for victims.
According to local news outlets, Chick-fil-A employees distributed ice tea and sandwiches to both law enforcement officials and people waiting in line to donate blood. A spokesperson for Chick-fil-A said that employees were just doing their part for the community:
“Our restaurant, along with a couple of others in the area, simply responded just like numerous other Orlando businesses and residents have done; we came together as a community to lift those in need.”
The Chick-fil-A chain wasn’t the only business to offer help following to tragedy. Ace Hardware handed out water to police officers and media members, Pizza Hut gave away food to blood donors, local restaurants donated money, JetBlue airline offered free flights to Orlando for immediate family members of the victims, Orlando Family Physicians offered free medical care to any survivors without health insurance, UnitedHealth and several other organizations offered free mental health counseling, and groups such as Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando offered to take care of victims’ animals.
Sending a light-filled message is a powerful force against a backdrop of darkness. Hopefully more business adopt that approach. Actions, rather than words or clever ads, are a real game changer.
Mary Jane McKittrick is a Messaging Expert and professional story-teller who specializes in the art of the pitch. As a Consultant, Mary Jane inspires and empowers business professionals to craft messaging that gets measurable results. Mary Jane is a former TV News Anchor, Reporter, and Producer for 3 network affiliate stations. She has worked behind the camera in Entertainment TV, and as on-camera host of 2 nationally syndicated TV shows. Ms. McKittrick was in charge of overseeing communications for 5 statewide offices while serving as Director of Corporate Communications for a large healthcare company in North Carolina.