Community outreach

It’s a bit bizarre these days, honestly. We’re in a pandemic, cases are increasing, and yet, we’re moving about. It’s very tricky because you tend to feel like everything’s normal, however, when you see everyone moving around in masks (and some not), you realise, it isn’t. 

However, communications exercises have truly worked. Every store in my local area has gone above and beyond to ensure people feel safe to shop. That’s when you know the true benchmark of a mass communication exercise, right? When it reaches the common man, and everyone “knows your message”. 

I know it’s been more than three months since the effect of pandemic hit India; however, it was interesting to see how community outreach was being done and communicated through this. 

I always wish people could listen to the Karnataka assembly (it’s almost entirely in Kannada), but our leaders spoke of the plague that hit when they were small, and how health officials went from door-to-door to check on people. That was the most effective. 

That’s a story our generation would never hear as it was narrated by a senior politician, who remembers it back when he was a little boy. 

His narration brought me back to my development communication classes, and how the government used to reach the most backward areas by printing messages on eggs. For us middle-class folks, it was an eye opener because it’s a side of life you don’t get to see. 

Here’s where WhatsApp sincerely helped. For all the brickbats it’s received on the spread of fake news, it has also had great moments through which impactful movements have been created. 

For example, our local area noticed migrants around a bus stand. Apartment communities came together, each apartment complex has a single point of contact (SPOC), and each community gave. Without my communications hat, this was one of the most satisfying moments through this pandemic. As a citizen, it felt the closest to being able to help someone in real need without contributing money and wondering if it was really reaching its intended person/s. 

Another way WhatsApp helped was the way it mobilised sectors. So, for someone who knows a lot of people in the local film community, the main associations collected funds through their various WhatsApp groups to help those in need. 

The creative community has been hit hard, as there have been no film shootings, recordings or anything happening that can generate an income. Now, we went from feeling helpless on helping those in need to really giving to the people who needed it the most. 

This was truly satisfying and yes, it was a bit ironic, being in corporate communications, mass efforts have been on, and it is needed, but as a citizen, community outreach won my contribution. 

 There’s giving, and then there’s a true community outreach. Both when corporates and communities come together, the impact is unparalleled. 

You can read an abbreviated list on corporate efforts here. Some large organisations went the extra mile to make masks, feed migrants, partner with the government to get smart schools up and running. 

While Vikas Khanna isn’t part of a corporate, his eye on India while being abroad is something that truly blew me away. His story stood out for me. It’s one thing to be abroad, but to help seven million people get food, that just blew me away. 

My favourite quote in all the stories I read on his effort was something similar to what the Captain Chesley from the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’. He said he spent his whole life preparing for that moment. It’s the same for Chef Khanna, he said he felt like his entire life had prepared him for this moment. 

When corporates use their scale and size for good as mentioned above, it makes you feel like the world may truly win. 

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nilofer DSouza
A former business journalist with Forbes India, Nilofer D'Souza, has, over the years, worked with leaders across IT, healthcare, and retail in the corporate sector. For over a decade, having won various awards, she's learned to deep dive into an organization's culture and drive effective communications.

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