The other day I received three emails within a few minutes of each other and they all had something in common…the lead was about the importance of getting vaccinated and times and locations of clinics in their communities.
Thought it was also great that one of the emails was in Spanish — obviously to reach a specific target market among its membership.
So, I got to thinking — I wonder if a lot of chambers are doing this kind of messaging.
While it seemed that nearly every chamber was vocal about personal protective equipment (PPE) and an advocate for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and grants for businesses, I believed that communications from chambers encouraging folks to get vaccinated were not as commonplace.
To try to back-up my belief with some data, I did a quick “insta-poll” to about 40 chamber execs, asking them: Has your chamber done any kind of campaign encouraging people to get vaccinated?
The response was mixed.
A few hadn’t done anything because “vaccines are a divisive issue.”
Several others were sharing or sending out messages from hospitals, vaccination clinics and county health officers. A few were doing posts on social media, but full-blown campaigns by the chamber were few and far between.
However, among the responses from my small sampling were at least two chambers that deserve to be spotlighted for going, in my opinion, above and beyond at being “a Champion for the Community”:
• The Grand Junction Area (CO) Chamber worked to have mobile vaccinations onsite at major employers and office buildings and distributed flyers that employers could use to encourage their employees to get vaccinated.
• The Lodi District (CA) Chamber scheduled shots for 1,500 Lodi Chamber members and their families. They did the first vaccination site for downtown businesses and small business owners out of the chamber’s conference room.
Just like in government affairs, it’s often the case that it’s NOT the message, it’s the messenger that makes the difference.
As our research shows, chambers of commerce are one of a community’s most trusted resources – in many cases far more trusted than government. This is a role that most chambers have excelled at during the pandemic.
I’m thinking that the key to opening the economy safely and responsibly is to get as many people as possible vaccinated. If you agree, then lining up a handful of diverse business leaders (trusted messengers) to do a 30-second video or public service announcement (PSA) would be a great thing and could be an important step to get us to the “end of the tunnel” and achieve herd immunity.
Wouldn’t it be great if by the time you read this, we were already there? And, if not, then there’s still time for you to do the right thing.
Leadership can be lonely, but remember…The Chamber is Courage.
Dave Kilby is president and CEO of W.A.C.E. and executive vice president of corporate affairs at the California Chamber.