@ChurchsChicken Loves St. Louis! | The Q&A
b-gyrl: Why did Church’s get involved?
Churchs: From the beginning, Church’s Chicken has been focused on the wellbeing of its surrounding communities and in most of these communities – we have been there through the years. We know that the communities we serve are also the people who we employ, so understanding the needs of these residents helps us serve them better. Because of our history in these communities, we are able to understand the local culture, landscape and needs. St. Louis is a very important city for Church’s and it always has been. With our Digital program beginning at Church’s, we wanted to use the medium as an opportunity to deep dive into communities and unearth the positive and see what Church’s means to the communities.
b-gyrl: What do you hope this mini documentary will accomplish?
Churchs: When determining cities for these deep dives, we needed to take a step back and recognize cities of progress within our country, cities that have grown and kept the culture that their residents cherish. When we saw that these particular cities were Church’s Chicken markets, we highlighted our deep connection to its residents and culture. St. Louis is a community where our team members are integral parts of their neighborhoods. They have created communities around our restaurants and relationships with all our guests. Through all of these happenings in each city, Church’s remains ingrained in the fabric of its communities no matter what. Through this mini documentary, what we wanted to do was celebrate our employees for making connections each day with these communities.
b-gyrl: “Church’s Loves St. Louis” gives a brief look at some of the dynamics of the region, how did you decide which dynamics to highlight such as the Delmar Divide and which to omit such as any mention of Ferguson, Michael Brown or the protests?
Churchs: Determining topics is very similar to how we determined the cities. We took a step back and looked at the progress the city was making, who was at the forefront and how adversity could promote unity. After discussion, we decided that the historical dynamic and progress helped those outside of St. Louis really connect to its people more than its events.
b-gyrl: What do you say to critics who’ve seen nonprofits, the clergy, media, celebs and businesses exploit tragedy suggest this is simply pr?
Churchs: Everybody’s reason for providing input or help is because of innate human reaction, with reason. Why do people do things? We can’t speak to their reasoning or anyone’s for that matter. What we can say is that Church’s team members have been a part of the St. Louis communities for decades and really understand the needs of this area. Celebrating these team members and their bravery and success shows the commitments toour neighbors. Church’s Loves Communities was created as a platform to allow us to learn more about ourselves as a brand and the role we play in the communities we serve, but it has also allowed others to comment and share their unique perspective on the issues we address. No matter who they are, we are interested in providing that platform for open dialogue, hoping that this will, in many ways, be an instrument for positive, and much needed, change.
b-gyrl: How can businesses help bring about change? What roles can businesses play in transforming their communities?
Churchs: Understanding the team member is the first place to bring about change in a community as a brand. The team member is often forgotten about as the first step to promote brand values. Our team members are our brand advocates, and the people who live and breathe the brand’s morals.With the right perspective, they can go into their neighborhoods and promote the Church’s moral standard, which is one of diversity and positivity. Impacting small changes will always make a difference in the grand scheme of life.
b-gyrl: “Church’s Loves St. Louis” shows a St. Louis that is changing, when nothing can be further from the truth. We are more divided than ever. Just yesterday an article appeared in the Post Dispatch about St. Louis School Board being discriminatory against black candidates. The same type of systemic racism exists in all of our institutions, how do we move forward if no one is really addressing or acknowledging RACISM, let alone countering it?
Churchs: No one person or brand can combat this. This is something that has been, unfortunately, apparent in our country for decades. As we try to grow as a country, it’s our neighborhoods that have to unite together for the greater good. By giving individuals who wish to see this change a platform to speak out and create an open dialogue, Church’s hopes to play a part in instilling some perspective and positivity in the community. We encourage everyone to share their points of view and discuss issues important to them. With a 7-minute video, topics were limited, but the true purpose was to inspire dialogue. With this question alone, we can see that answers to these questions are being brought up and the video is doing what it was meant to do.
b-gyrl: Your documentary does a great job showing diversity… a variety of St. Louisians working to make a difference. How were they selected?
Churchs: These great people were found through word of mouth; you speak with one advocate and from that names, people and organizations are uncovered. There is a united network of progressive, thought-provoking people in St. Louis who we’d like to getinvolved, but we barely scratched the surface. Those who participated were selected to highlight diverse points of views so that the documentary provided our audience with a consensus of the city.
b-gyrl: What are some of the other ways Church’s is involved in transforming communities?
Churchs: Education is a core pillar for our brand and stands true at any age. We participate in No Kid Hungry in many cities across the country, where we try and help support the meal before school – the one that young kids need to help them learn and absorb. From there, we work with Penn Foster to provide a means for team members to obtain high school diplomas – they are still excited for knowledge and we are happy to help them gain a diploma. Lastly, the Church’s Partners Foundation provides scholarships for students in communities throughout our system. These college-bound students have made us proud over the last three years – in 2016 alone we were able to give 225 scholarships to these deserving students. We hope to increase all of these programs as we grow and better understand our communities and how they are evolving.
b-gyrl: “Church’s Loves St. Louis” leaves viewers feeling hopeful, how can we build upon that hope and usher in change?
Churchs: If this video changes even one person’s view on St. Louis, that’s the first step in change. Positive, unified solutions help bring people together. Thinking about how people have come together in a time of adversity inspires those in other cities to be that agent of change. It all starts with someone watching and taking action.
b-gyrl: Church’s is an institution in some of St. Louis’s poorest neighborhoods, any plans to transform it into a community gathering place or provide much-needed resources such as wifi?
Churchs: This is a great question. We have plans to improve our locations in the near future, in every neighborhood. Something that we as a brand recognize and agree is needed. From there, we hope to be able to provide resources directly to our guests; hopefully WIFI is in our future. For now, we really like to think that our Mobile App can help people from all walks of life enjoy Church’s Chicken with great offers and deals right in their mobile phones. We understand that Mobile Phone space and data is precious, so we want to make sure that the value is there for a guest. We want to be able to make each guests’ experience better than the one before!