Australians have seen the true force of mother nature in the last few months. Just in the last two weeks, we've seen it all – heavy rain, dust storms, hail and more summer heat. But, notably, the few days of rain we were blessed with helped contain the 100+ bushfires burning across our nation since September 2019. The reality is though, it's far from over as the road to recovery has only just begun for the thousands of residents and businesses affected.
The bushfire crisis may have subsided, but for many Australians, but it will sooner or later be business as usual. From today forward, it is no longer about survival but shifting to recovery and rebuilding communities and their livelihoods. Supporting local and small businesses to help them bounce back and keep them afloat in the future is now on our agendas.
The start of 2020 has already seen the launch of a number of local initiatives to partake in and give back, such as:
- Spend With Them, an Instagram account dedicated to showcasing small businesses in fire-affected towns, encouraging people to shop locally in the hopes of helping put money back into the communities that need it most.
- Empty Esky is asking people to grab an empty esky and (when it's safe) head out to affected towns and fill up with everything local. Not just wine, food and produce, but coffee and fuel, clothing, accessories. Eat at the restaurants. Drink at the pubs.
- Tourism Australia's $20 million advertising campaign called “Holiday Here This Year," which is encouraging Aussies to travel locally to support the tourism industry.
- The Morrison government is urging businesses and organisations to move their annual conferences or trade shows to regional areas affected by the summer's catastrophic bushfires to help rejuvenate the ailing tourism sector.
Closer to our hearts, Hotwire is very proud to announce that we have partnered with 21+ PR agencies and media companies across Australia to form the first Bushfire PR Alliance.
Each agency – defining our own scope and available time – will be paired by the NSW Business Chamber, Visit Victoria and other tourism bodies with a local area, town or region that needs communications support.
Over the course of 2020, the agencies will work with their ‘adopted’ community on a project or ongoing basis to provide PR and communications support free of charge to educate and inspire visitation by domestic and international audiences.
This exciting and unified move is unprecedented in the Australian PR industry. As a collective, our hope is to utilise our role as communicators, brand experts and storytellers to bring these communities back to life and show the rest of the world the true Aussie community spirit and resilience.
The ripple effect of disasters can take months or years to unfold. Communities have been scarred with red and amber warnings for months and months now. Most towns severely affected are now deserted. Thousands of wildlife with no water and place to live. Our firefighters and rescue volunteers exhausted. It's our turn to act and there's no better time than now.
We're in this together!
The agencies will work with their “adopted” community on a project or on a continuing basis to provide PR and communications support to showcase its wares and help boost visitor numbers.