What a decade 2020 has been. First, we want to say that our thoughts and hearts are with everyone impacted by this global pandemic. To anyone sick, we extend our best wishes for a full and speedy recovery. To anyone dealing with the collateral economic damage of the pandemic, we extend our empathy. 

Photo: Charles Reagan Photography for Rolling Stone Magazine

Coronavirus, and the disease it causes – COVID-19, has gripped the world. Small businesses from travel outfits to retailers to restaurants to marketing agencies are – for lack of a better word – shook right now. The vast majority of us are facing hard decisions, trying to maintain calm in the face of unprecedented uncertainty, and praying the bank account stays out of the red in a way that doesn’t put profit before people.

As much as this pandemic has disrupted all aspects of life, we’re inspired every day by healthcare workers, first responders, grocery and pharmacy staff, janitors, and everyday people doing their best to make beauty in a dark world. Though many of our friends, clients and colleagues have closed their hospitality and tourism operations to preserve public safety, others that are able have moved meetings online, figured out how to work while homeschooling, started live-streaming fundraisers (major kudos to Austin’s Jane Ko for her efforts!), and much more.

We’ve seen zoos and museums offer free online programming, musicians broadcast live music sessions, restaurants adapt to closures with curbside and delivery, and gyms move to Zoom classes. We’ve seen local distilleries and breweries switch production to produce (and give away) hand sanitizer to the community. We’ve watched local musicians, artists and chefs put on programming to provide both entertainment and funds to industry workers out of jobs. Though our reality is bizarre and a bit uncertain right now, the innovation and community support (from a safe six-foot distance) that’s arising in response is truly inspiring.  

Our marketing team has made some tough decisions on how we respond to this unprecedented reality – both for ourselves and for our clients who are directly impacted by small business closures. Like you, we are figuring it out as we go – day by day. Our promise: we will innovate and work to make our clients whole – either now or on the other side of this thing. Here are a few things guiding us during this time:

  1. Continue communicating: Clear communication is crucial right now. If your business and/or audience is impacted by this outbreak, then do communicate with your audience about what this pandemic means for your business, employees, community, and your ability to keep operations afloat. 
  2. Messaging matters: It’s important to communicate with your audience honestly, with sensitivity and in a manner that shows empathy towards their situation. Things are changing hour by hour right now, so spend a little extra time crafting your message – copy that was cute and coy yesterday might be tone-deaf today. (And, please don’t feed anxiety – we are all on overload.) 
  3. Don’t forget your core values: We are all adapting, but we can’t lose ourselves in the process. Your brands’ core values and positioning should guide you through this new normal. 
  4. Be helpful: You may not be able to come up with a vaccine for COVID-19, but is there anything else you can offer your followers in these challenging times that IS helpful? Ideas for home entertainment? Virtual cooking lessons from your restaurant? Live streaming and web conferencing tools to ensure that business continues safely and efficiently? Now is the time for innovation! 
  5. Adaptability means survival: If there was ever a time for creative problem solving, this is it. The businesses – from local, small/medium and global to freelancers and independent contractors – that will make it out on the other side of this are the ones who can be flexible, adaptable and generate creative solutions as we work through this new normal. This might be as mundane as reorganizing project management structure to support working from home and running payroll differently to free up cash. It might mean overhauling entire logistics – like turning your restaurant into a grocery store and delivering cocktail kits paired with live mixology sessions. Whatever this looks like for your unique circumstances, adaptability is the key to surviving. 

Photo: Marcel Van Hoorn / ANP / Getty

Ou team is on hand to curate messaging, advise on best practices and business strategies during this time. Like everyone, we are adjusting our original plans and roadmaps and adapting to your needs. Stay tuned next week for our thoughts on maximizing this downtime and being proactive (and productive) during the new normal. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy, friends.