When I began working at Love’s as External Communications Manager, one thing caught me off guard: I constantly felt hungry. It’s because, meeting after meeting, we work with teams wanting us to communicate externally about plans that involve food. I’ve since learned to battle my famished feelings, but I knew I was in trouble when we received a request from the Girl Scouts.
The Scouts were having trouble fundraising with their iconic cookies, due to social distancing and stay-at-home orders related to COVID-19. A few troops turned to us to see whether we’d give cookies away in our stores to truck drivers. Of course, we agreed. The Girl Scouts sold these cookies online, telling supporters the purchased cookies would go to drivers who are delivering vital goods – including medicine and food – across the country during the pandemic. Love’s also purchased boxes of cookies.
Once cookie sales ended, we worked with the Scouts on the best timing to drop off cookies to stores, primarily along Interstate 40 in New Mexico and Oklahoma. We worked together to ensure they captured videos and photos during the deliveries so we’d have strong assets for the media. We know media outlets are strapped for time and so we wanted to provide them assets they could easily use to cover the story.
The cookie-redemption process went smoothly. Each trucker who wanted a box was given one of their favorite type of cookie. It took about five days to give away 5,000 boxes.
Here’s what one of our operation managers reported, “Drivers thought it was really nice for both Love’s and the Girl Scouts to hand out cookies. When you hand them cookies and say, ‘Thank you for being a driver,’ a lot of them thought that was awesome. Good to see a lot of drivers walk out with a smile.”
Aside from anecdotal feedback and goodwill, here are some numbers:
- Secured more than 20 stories from New Mexico, Oklahoma City, and industry media.
- Social media numbers for our only native post didn’t meet our expectations initially, but after the first day grew more than we typically see. That implies the story gained steam beyond our usual audience.
- Facebook: 11,807 users reached.
- LinkedIn: 9,644 users reached; with an extremely high engagement rate of 17.25%.
- Twitter: 5,620 users reached.
- Instagram: 1,875 users reached.
Because of the quick turnaround, timing, and unexpected nature of the event, we didn’t create a full-blown communications plan to judge ourselves against. Given the reactions from truck drivers and the Girl Scouts, we consider our execution successful.
We don’t have the opportunity to earn many traditional media stories out of New Mexico, so securing more than 20 – some of which we amplified on social media for further mileage – was a nice win for Love’s. We also consider the social media numbers strong (especially the engagement data on Facebook and LinkedIn), given that the story was based primarily in New Mexico. It shows that, if the story’s subject has universal appeal, then it doesn’t matter where it’s based.
But there was one big negative: I’m still craving Girl Scout cookies! ∞