U-Haul® has been recognized as a Ragan’s PR Daily Award winner in two categories thanks to its 30 days free self-storage offer to all college students across the U.S. and Canada during the COVID-19 outbreak in spring 2020.
The Ragan’s PR Daily Awards honor compelling communication, powerful and engaging messaging, and strategically crafted and executed campaigns. In this case, the awards simply shined a light on the goodwill gesture that U-Haul made to those in need amid a sudden crisis.
U-Haul won for “PR Campaign of the Year” as well as “Community Relations Campaign.” Finalists represent the organizations and communications teams behind the best communications campaigns, projects, initiatives, and content from the past year, per Ragan’s.
“It is an honor for our teams to be recognized in this manner, and it reflects the work we put in every day to ensure U-Haul customers are cared for and their needs are being met,” said Jeff Lockridge, Manager of Media & Public Relations for U-Haul International.
“Our offer to college students amid the coronavirus outbreak was a large and substantial undertaking. Assistance was made available at every Company-owned and -operated storage facility across two countries. It is the first time U-Haul offered disaster relief on this scale. This decision was not made for Public Relations purposes. It stemmed entirely from the desire to step forward, lead by example and help our communities. There was an immediate need when students were left in limbo as schools began closing campus housing and ceasing in-person instruction. This occurred suddenly and in the middle of the spring term. Many thousands of students graciously accepted the chance to store their personal belongings with us at no cost during this uncertain time.”
30 Days Free Storage
In addition to the 30 days of free self-storage offer, U-Haul extended a variety of expanded, free and reduced-priced Collegeboxes services to students.
U-Haul 30 days free self-storage disaster relief assistance is typically approved by management on the local level for new customers in communities that have been impacted by a natural disaster. This offer can be extended when flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and other destructive events occur, leaving our neighbors in need.
Communication is Key
U-Haul was among the very first companies to step forward with national assistance when the COVID-19 outbreak happened in March 2020. Sharing efforts surrounding this news began on Twitter, where hundreds of users retweeted and liked messages. A national press release was issued and targeted media that was reporting on COVID-19. U-Haul digital marketers created an email campaign to contact established customers, many of whom were students who had recently used U-Haul to move to campus.
The U-Haul press release quickly earned about 13,000 views and, in the first week, U-Haul email pitches resulted in 874 unique mentions for a potential reach of 11.2 million people.
These efforts led to top-tier national media coverage. CNN, Newsweek and INSIDER reported on the U-Haul offer, among many others. FOX and FOX Business interviewed U-Haul executives for live hits in the days that followed as students began pouring into Company storage locations.
While the pandemic and campus closures generated widespread confusion and left many seeking solutions to new dilemmas, U-Haul was honored to play a small role in providing families with some clarity, convenience and an answer to at least one of their problems.
U-Haul, founded in 1945 and headquartered in Phoenix since 1967, proudly marked 75 years of moving America in 2020. Thank you for allowing us to serve you, and for trusting us with what matters most.