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Marketing Tips

Courtesy of https://www.klaviyo.com/

Day by day, the coronavirus crisis continues to change the way we shop, as consumers, and change the way we conduct business, as marketers. For many companies, this means reevaluating a direct-to-consumer (DTC) strategy and relying more heavily on ecommerce or building out an online store for the first time.

As you begin to adjust your marketing strategy, the most effective tactics will be the small, iterative changes you can make to your current setup—and who better to provide tips other than the marketing agencies that are implementing them for their clients every day?

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COVID-19 Daily News

HOLYOKE — The death toll at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home is up to 13 veteran residents in the past week, at least six from COVID-19, while another 10 residents have tested positive for coronavirus, and 25 more are waiting for test results.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse called the situation at the Soldiers’ Home “unacceptable” and “a disservice to everyone who lives there.” 

In a statement, he noted that, “while I am grateful that the state is now taking swift action to ensure residents and staff get necessary care and treatment, I am grief-stricken for those we have already lost, and my heart goes out to their families and friends.”

Meanwhile U.S. Rep. Richard Neal is calling for accountability for what happened, noting that he has spoken to Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders and the Massachusetts Nurses Assoc. to share his concerns about the conditions at the home and to learn more about their plans to move forward.

“I am heartbroken by the sudden loss of life,” Neal said when the first 11 deaths were reported earlier this week. “While the Commonwealth of Massachusetts manages the healthcare facility, I have always worked hard to secure federal assistance for the home because of the importance of their mission. The residents of the Soldiers’ Home have served their country with honor and distinction, and their health and safety, along with that of the staff, has always been top priority. This is even more personal to me because I have an uncle who is a full-time resident there. I was shocked to learn of these deaths.”

Bennett Walsh, the home’s superintendent, has been placed on leave, and Val Liptak, CEO of Western Massachusetts Hospital, has assumed responsibility for the administration of the facility. The state also assembled an on-site clinical command team comprised of medical, epidemiological, and operational experts responsible for rapid response to the outbreak.

COVID-19 Daily News

BOSTON — On Tuesday, the Baker-Polito administration announced several updates related to the COVID-19 outbreak, including extending the non-essential business emergency order until May 4. The Department of Public Health’s (DPH) stay-at-home advisory remains in effect.

Businesses and organizations not on the list of ‘COVID-19 essential services’ are encouraged to continue operations through remote means that do not require workers, customers, or the public to enter or appear at the brick-and-mortar premises closed by the order. This order also prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people until May 4.

The administration also updated the essential-services list, which is based on federal guidance updated earlier this week. While these businesses are designated as essential, they are urged to follow social-distancing protocols for workers in accordance with guidance from DPH. The updates to the essential-services list include clarity around the supply chain that supports other essential services, adds healthcare providers like chiropractors and optometrists, and expands the types of workers providing disinfectant and sanitation services.

Last week, Gov. Charlie Baker directed DPH to issue a stay-at-home advisory, and the governor announced Tuesday that the advisory will remain in effect. Residents are advised to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary person-to-person contact during this time period. Residents who are considered at high risk when exposed to COVID-19 should limit social interactions with other people as much as possible.

In other news, the Commonwealth, through MEMA, has requested and received approval for a field nedical station that will provide additional medical-care capacity as the state plans for a surge in cases. The federal Strategic National Stockpile has approved a 250-bed field medical station that will be deployed to the DCU Center in Worcester this week. This temporary facility will be managed by UMass Memorial Medical Center and staffed by a partnership including the city of Worcester and others. The temporary field medical center will be used to treat lower-acuity patients who still need monitoring.

The Commonwealth is also implementing a pilot project that allows for safe, on-site testing of symptomatic residents of nursing and rest homes with a quick turnaround. The pilot will operate under the auspices of the Massachusetts National Guard in partnership with DPH and Broad Institute of Cambridge, and samples will be collected by trained personnel from the Massachusetts National Guard. Prior to this launch, the only way for nursing-home residents to be tested would be to be transported to a hospital or physician’s office.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Thanks to a generous donation from the Perlman family, owners of Ocean State Job Lots, the staff at JGS Lifecare were treated to free groceries in an expression of gratitude for their commitment to the care of our frail elders, especially in these unprecedented times.

Over the course of the past few days, all JGS Lifecare employees have been invited to stop in a temporary grocery store and farmers’ market located in the Nirenberg Administration Building and its adjacent parking lot, on the JGS Lifecare campus. Each staff member filled three bags of dry goods and two bags of fresh produce to take home to their families. Staff selected from tall displays of peanuts, peanut butter, chicken broth, stuffing, turkey gravy, sweet and spicy baked beans, canned pineapple, and boxes loaded with organic lettuces and tomatoes, tangerines, bananas, avocados, zucchini, apples, grapes, grapefruit, asparagus, potatoes, and onions.

Ellie Riberio, a nurse at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home for four years, said that, “when I got the text last night that JGS was giving us five bags of groceries, I was in shock. I so much appreciate it. It helps me and my family out tremendously. The staff here has been wonderful throughout this ordeal that we’re going through. I cannot express how grateful I am for all that they’re doing to help us.”

“Our staff is remarkable,” added Adam Berman, president of JGS Lifecare. “They come to work each and every day to care for our most vulnerable seniors, many leaving their children at home with the additional costs of child care. Their kids are snacking all day, so we know that this free food will be of great benefit to them, and it is a wonderful way for us to express our appreciation for all that they are doing for our residents. We are continually seeking ways to show our gratitude and support during these trying times. We are indebted to the Perlman family for making this possible.”

COVID-19 Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — With record-breaking speed, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has begun providing guidance on how the recently created Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will work in practice, attorneys at Bulkley Richardson note.

The PPP is one of the new programs created by the CARES Act, the more than $2 trillion emergency relief package fast-tracked through Congress in less than a week. The PPP is designed to encourage employers to keep employees on the payroll throughout the coronavirus crisis.

The SBA is starting to publish its guidance and sample forms. Click here for more information.

Perhaps the most important guidance is that “lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020,” which is this Friday — a week after the CARES Act was signed into law by President Trump.

Some of the guidance is at odds with the CARES Act. The guidance states that PPP loans have a maturity of two years and an interest rate of 0.5% while the CARES Act states that the PPP loans would bear interest at 4% and have a maximum maturity of 10 years. The guidance confirms that “any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution” can make a PPP loan, in addition to the existing SBA 7(a) approved lenders. This greatly expands the universe of potential lenders, which is important since all PPP loans need to be originated and closed by June 30, 2020.

The first sample form (available by clicking here) is the proposed application for the PPP loans, which reveals several details that are either not addressed in the CARES Act or are directly contrary to the language in the CARES Act. For example, the CARES Act provides that the maximum PPP loan amount is based on “payroll costs incurred during the one-year period before the date on which the loan is made.” The proposed application’s instructions instead direct applicants to “use the average monthly payroll for 2019.” In each case, the maximum loan amount is 2.5 times this average monthly payroll.

Another discrepancy affects the amount of the loan that can be forgiven. The CARES Act simply provides that the forgiveness amount cannot exceed the sum of the following costs incurred by the business in the eight-week period immediately following the closing of the loan: payroll costs; any payment of interest on any covered mortgage obligation (which shall not include any prepayment or payment of principal on a covered mortgage obligation); any payment on any covered rent obligation; or any covered utility payment.

While the application does state that “loan forgiveness will be provided for the sum of documented payroll costs, covered mortgage interest payments, covered rent payments, and covered utilities,” the application also requires the business to certify that, “due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.”

The sample form also confirms that applicants and any individual owning 20% or more of an applicant must be able to certify that each of them are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (so any businesses where 20% of more is owned by an undocumented immigrant or a foreign citizen may not apply for or receive a PPP loan); and that none of them are “presently subject to an indictment, criminal information, arraignment, or other means by which formal criminal charges are brought in any jurisdiction, or presently incarcerated, or probation, or parole.” The breadth of that last provision is striking, in that anyone merely accused of a crime may not apply for or receive a PPP loan.

Visit bulkley.com for more resources from Bulkley Richardson’s COVID-19 Response Team.

COVID-19 Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The United Way of Pioneer Valley has donated 5,000 frozen meals to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The transfer took place at Springfield City Hall earlier this week, with Mayor Domenic Sarno and United Way President and CEO Paul Mina in attendance.

With the economic effects of COVID-19 causing many area businesses to close, the Food Bank and the food pantries it serves have seen a dramatic increase in area needs. This donation was a part of the Western Mass. United Ways’ combined efforts to provide COVID-19 relief.

More information about these efforts and how you can donate is available at uwpv.org/covid19.

Marketing Tips

Courtesy of https://www.wordstream.com/

The COVID-19 outbreak is having a significant impact on daily business and consumer behavior, and as a result, these are times when small business owners and advertisers need to find opportunities that will help them build personalized and lasting relationships with their audiences from a safe distance. Unprecedented times call for adjustments to your online advertising, and we can help.

We’ve compiled six strategies for running Facebook and Instagram ads effectively during the pandemic:

  1. Stay consistent and extend your high-performing ads
  2. Build brand awareness with your online audience
  3. Find new leads and build your email marketing list with lead ads
  4. Focus on remarketing campaigns
  5. Test new ad creative and audiences
  6. Try Facebook and Instagram Live

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COVID-19 Daily News

HOLYOKE — Eleven veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home have died between March 1 and March 30, at least five due to COVID-19. Eleven other veterans and five staff have tested positive for the virus, and 25 veterans are awaiting test results. Bennett Walsh, the home’s superintendent, has been placed on leave.

“It is imperative that the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home provide a safe environment for the veteran residents and the dedicated staff who serve them,” Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Dan Tsai said on Monday. “Superintendent Bennett Walsh has been placed on paid administrative leave effective immediately. Val Liptak, RN, currently the CEO of Western Massachusetts Hospital, will assume responsibility for the administration of the Soldiers’ Home at this time.

“We have also implemented an on-site clinical command team comprised of medical, epidemiological, and operational experts responsible for the comprehensive and rapid response to the outbreak of COVID-19,” Tsai added. “All of these enhancements will build upon the existing protocols and work that align with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidance. Today’s actions underscore the state’s commitment to our veterans and frontline healthcare employees during this unprecedented public-health crisis.”

In a tweet Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker said that, “as someone who has visited the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home on many occasions to catch up with staff and residents, I am heartbroken by today’s news. The loss of these residents to COVID-19 is a shuddering loss for us all.”

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse issued a statement as well, noting that “this is a difficult day for our city, and it is almost certain that more difficult days will follow. Today is a painful reminder that, while many people will experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, there are those among us who are at much higher risk, and we must be vigilant in our care for ourselves to ensure the safety of all. I call on all Holyokers to consider your actions, to be sure to follow social distancing to the best of your abilities, to contact your friends and loved ones, and to take care of yourselves both physically and mentally. While we need distance from each other now, we are in this fight together.”

He added that Holyoke is receiving frequent updates from state health officals as the situation at the Soldiers’ Home unfolds, and he will continue to update the public with what he learns.

“It is in large part thanks to the outreach of staff from the state-run facility to my office on Saturday that I was alerted to the growing issues at the Soldiers’ Home,” Morse added. “I want to thank Lieutenant Governor Polito and Secretary of Health and Human Services [Marylou] Sudders for taking immediate action upon my request, but, most importantly, thank you to the nurses and staff at the Soldiers’ Home who cared for those whom we have lost, and who continue to care for those in need.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) President Christina Royal has issued a personal $10,000 challenge gift toward a new HCC campaign that is as much about building moral support in a time of great uncertainty as it is about raising money for students experiencing financial distress.

On Monday, the HCC Foundation launched “Together HCC — A Campaign for Caring.” As part of that campaign, students, staff, faculty, alumni, relatives, and friends are being asked to use the hashtag #TogetherHCC to share stories and images on social media that show the strength of the college community in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Royal’s $10,000 challenge is not just a financial one. Instead, the goal is to gather 1,000 contributions of any kind toward the #TogetherHCC campaign. That includes monetary donations as well as social-media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as e-mail submissions that describe an inspirational tale or messages of encouragement relating to the ongoing pandemic.

“This is an unprecedented time in our history that can only be navigated if we work together,” Royal said. “Our campaign for caring enables members of our community to offer encouragement to one another and provide inspiration. The financial investments and kind words offered through this campaign are vitally important to our students’ success and to the well-being of every member of our community.”

Besides scholarships, the HCC Foundation manages several funds that directly support students facing financial emergencies as well as those experiencing food and housing insecurity. These include the President’s Student Emergency Fund, which was established by Royal, and another that supports HCC’s Thrive Student Resource Center, which manages the HCC Food Pantry. 

“This has been, and continues to be, a stressful and challenging time for everyone,” said Amanda Sbriscia, HCC vice president of Institutional Advancement and executive director of the HCC Foundation, the college’s nonprofit fundraising corporation. “The COVID-19 crisis has turned the world upside down, and amidst this uncertainty, we still need to do everything we can to provide our students with the education and support they deserve. Meanwhile, our students are facing all kinds of challenges in their own lives. Together, HCC isn’t just about providing financial support for them, it’s also about providing moral support. Through this campaign, we want to let our students and other members of the college community know that it’s going to be okay and that we are all in this together.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley will receive a community-benefits discretionary grant of $5,000 from Baystate Health to Girls Inc. of the Valley’s “Informed and In Charge” program, which is designed to teach healthy sexuality.

Through “Informed and In Charge,” girls acquire the knowledge and skills for taking charge of and making informed decisions about their sexual health. Exploring values, practicing responses in different situations, and thinking about their futures helps girls identify ways and reasons to avoid early pregnancy and prevent sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. 

“This wonderful grant from Baystate Health speaks to their commitment to the health and wellness of girls in the Valley,” said Suzanne Parker, executive director of Girls Inc. of the Valley. “During these challenging times, it is more crucial than ever to invest in girls, and Baystate Health’s support of our ‘Informed and In Charge’ program is so impactful.” 

As an integrated health system, the advancement of knowledge is a major component of Baystate Health’s mission, aligning with that of Girls Inc. of the Valley. Baystate Health aims to educate and train current and future caregivers through supporting community-based organizations and advancing early interventions in wellness and nutrition.

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