No one was prepared for how the coronavirus global pandemic would upend and challenge us all. Yet, we are all coming together. We are witnessing this with how our country is working with the medical and science communities, and responding as a nation to do all we can to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Both the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA) are listening to members, taking active steps to provide leadership and support through the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe.
The NPMA also launched PestControlCoronavirus.com — updated regularly with breaking news, federal guidelines and information, government policy resources, templates for internal and external communications, and human resources information to help members stay on top of this rapidly evolving situation. It is regularly hosting COVID-19-related webinars, all of which are available for download on the site.
The association reached out to all 50 governors, 31 state legislatures, mayors of the 100 largest cities, and countless other entities and officials. NPMA members sent nearly 19,000 grassroots messages to state lawmakers in March alone, urging that pest control be designated an essential service so that those who want to work, can. As of April 2, most governors have either designated pest control as essential or have not closed pest control businesses, enabling pest control companies to operate in all 50 states.
The NPMA also is tracking changes to state certification and testing requirements as a result of COVID-19, and are actively advocating for changes to policy and emergency rulemaking to ensure that PMPs can continue to hire technicians and keep current employees working during the crisis. Additionally, the NPMA is maintaining a repository of antimicrobial application certification requirements for each state, which also can be found at PestControlCoronavirus.com.
The PPMA, the consumer marketing and public outreach arm of the NPMA, is providing tools for companies to effectively communicate with customers. Customizable materials include an industry alert and customer letter to help guide PMPs in their external communications, as well as a comprehensive dos and don’ts guide for speaking to customers about the COVID-19 pandemic and professional pest control as an essential service.
To help educate consumers on the vital role of the industry, especially during times such as these, the PPMA is continuing with its media outreach, securing coverage in The New York Times, MSN.com and National Geographic, discussing the significance of proper pest control during this national crisis. On social media, the group also released a Facebook Live series featuring NPMA entomologists discussing how current events are affecting insect and rodent behavior and ways to protect against pest problems. To aid members in hosting live chats of their own, the PPMA also released a guide to conducting Facebook Live chats.
On PestWorldforKids.org, the PPMA also is providing parents with free educational programming for children of all ages, to help keep them engaged and entertained while schools remain closed. From Critter Crafts and games to engaging videos and science lesson plans, all content is safe, ad-free and approved by the National Science Teachers Association. It also meets National Council of Teachers of English standards.
The PPMA also is hosting a “Buggy Break” Facebook Live series on its PestWorld Facebook page, with NPMA entomologists teaching bug-related lessons and more. To help members utilize these resources as a touchpoint with customers, the PPMA created social media assets companies can post on their own Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages to share this much-needed children’s content.
While there’s no playbook for a situation like this, one thing is certain: Pest control is, and always will be, essential to protecting public health, food and property from the dangers posed by pests. And we’ll always answer that call.
Read more COVID-19 coverage here: MyPMP.net/COVID-19
MANNES is executive director for the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA) and vice president of Public Affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.