When the ball dropped at midnight in Times Square to ring in 2020, no one in the crowd could have imagined that the city's streets would be a ghost town within a few months thanks to COVID-19. This year has certainly been challenging for everyone, and we all want to do what we can to support essential workers and first responders. We can do that in many ways, like making masks, sending meals and care packages, and thanking people at every opportunity. Showing appreciation to those on the front lines can be a real morale booster for everyone!
In our local communities, however, trying to support businesses that have been impacted by lockdowns and restrictions takes a little more creativity. This is especially true when many families are experiencing hardships of their own -- reduced work hours, furloughs, closed schools -- and don't have the financial resources to get takeout or buy gift cards.
The good news is that there are other ways to help your favorite businesses not only survive, but thrive as we move forward and begin the road to recovery. Here are three quick and easy things you can do to lend a hand:
Write a positive online review
Let's be honest: when you're shopping online, you're more likely to buy something with lots of four- and five-star reviews than a similar item with many one- or two-star ratings. Positive reviews can really make a difference when someone's researching a purchase and can even help more people find a product or service online. This is especially true with resources like Google and Yelp. If you're a big fan of your plumber, landscaper or dog walker, why not look them up on Google and leave an honest review that tells other people what sets these service stars apart from the competition?
Spread the word on social media
Good news travels fast under any circumstances, and faster still on social media. One photo, tweet or post can go viral in minutes. There are many online groups dedicated to people with common interests ("Moms of Triplets", for example) or who live in a specific city or state. Folks often post requests in groups or on their own social pages for recommendations if they're in need of a specific service, and giving a shout-out to your go-to provider can go a long way. Better still, tagging that person or business in your recommendation -- usually by typing @ followed by their name or "handle" -- promotes their social media page for others who may need the same product or service.
Send a testimonial
Have you ever visited a company's website and seen quotes from satisfied customers? Those words of praise -- also known as "testimonials" -- come from real people and can give a boost to the business's credibility in the eyes of a potential client. For those who are concerned about privacy, most businesses who publish testimonials won't use the full name or address of the person who writes it but will instead use his or her initials and hometown. It's a rare company that wouldn't honor a happy client's request for privacy (especially if that client is supplying an unsolicited positive review!), so don't be afraid to make your wishes known!
In stressful and uncertain times, the only constant for many people is the words of love and support from those closest to them. If we work together to cast a wide net of kindness and connection while apart, our efforts can add a level of comfort and peace of mind to those who need it most.
Until next time -- and there will be a next time -- be well, stay safe and wash your hands!