Build Unity With Your Community


Strong Community Outreach Is Good for Your Business and Your Employees.

Community relations is defined as “the relationship that a company, organization, etc., has with the people who live in the area in which it operates.” For the most part, the industry thinks of community relations as its outreach efforts such as open houses, school programs, 5K events, donations, and more.

When producers engage in an authentic effort to meet the needs of its community, stronger relationships are built. Conversely, careless statements by company officials or communication that seems out of sync with public opinion can harm a business.

History is riddled with examples of communication that negatively impacted companies, not only in terms of brand perception, but also financially. Remember the 2017 cell phone footage of an elderly doctor being dragged from United Airlines flight 3411? Another passenger’s video of an elderly doctor being hauled off the plane was posted to Twitter and Facebook, where it was viewed more than 19 million times on Facebook alone.

United’s now departing CEO, Oscar Munoz, made a series of unfortunate missteps when publicly addressing the incident. In his first communication, he said, “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.” That didn’t go over well. It took two more attempts before he offered what could be viewed as a true apology, but it was too little, too late. United’s stock plunged fell by $700 million in the days that followed. Ironically, Munoz had been named Communicator of the Year by PR Week, a B2B magazine, a month before the incident.

As the 2019 holidays approached, a Peloton commercial sparked outrage across social media. For those of you hiding under a rock who haven’t seen it, the commercial is about a husband who buys his already-fit wife a fancy exercise bike for Christmas. It follows her as she posts anxious selfie videos about her first ride, her fifth ride, and shares a video about its impact on her life a year later.

The ad has been described as everything from sexist to dystopian and spawned a homemade parody – ending with the wife giving the husband divorce papers. The parody video has been viewed more than 3.5 million times on Twitter alone.

Social media wunderkind Ryan Reynolds played on reactions to the original commercial when hiring the Peloton actress for his new Aviation gin ad. It features the actress out drinking with girlfriends, who have dialogue such as “you’re safe here” and closes with “you look great, by the way.” Reynolds turned Peloton’s mistake – which caused its stock to plunge 15% in three days – into his own brand builder.

Messaging, good or bad, is unlikely to create such a high degree of visibility for most aggregate producers, but community relations does have a significant impact on how an operation is viewed in each local market. It affects an operator’s ability to expand permits, attract workers, and increase customer loyalty. It also fosters pride among current employees who see the positive impact these programs have in their community.

If you have any doubts about the value of happy employees, look no further than Fortune magazine, which publishes a list of “The 50 Best Workplaces for Giving Back.” It notes, “giving back is associated with greater employee retention, higher levels of brand ambassadorship on the part of workers, and more enthusiastic employees. Staffers who believe in their organizations are a striking 13 times more likely to look forward to coming to work, compared to employees who do not perceive their employees to be generous toward the community.”

Community relations is not only about doing good works, it’s also about good business. And in the era of social media, it’s more important than ever. Throughout 2020, I look forward to highlighting stories about aggregate producers who understand these concepts and are good neighbors in their communities.


Therese Dunphy has covered the aggregates industry for nearly 30 years, while also serving multiple roles as a public official. As the owner of Stone Age Communications, she provides communications consulting services to help aggregate producers build stronger relationships within the communities they serve. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..