Society is facing an unprecedented health crisis. The global economy is on the brink of collapse. Some wonder: How can businesses stay open in this capacity? Is it even ethical to keep operating as usual? Is it moral to do business and how should we communicate about it?
As PR practitioners, now is the time to be more entrepreneurial by fostering social dialogue and creating new opportunities.
These extraordinary challenges mean that doing business with heart matters more than ever. The question has shifted from ‘How can we continue doing business as usual?’ to ‘How can we do business as usual and make a positive impact on society right now?’.
We, as customers, are tremendously grateful to those businesses which still are operating. I have seen posts of people sharing pictures of their favourite brand’s deliveries and praise for those organisations going the extra mile to keep providing a high level of services despite the challenges.
I recently listened to Marie Forleo’s podcast on how to market and sell during a global crisis. She formulated 5 simple but impactful marketing ideas worth sharing:
- Buy one give one (and give one to someone in need)
- Sell and donate some of the proceeds (Coronavirus fund)
- Sell your product and offer scholarships
- Sell your good, collect tips on the service rate and give those tips away
- Offer generous payment plans or put payments on temporary pause (if your business has some cash reserves)
Those businesses continuing to operate should not feel guilty – or cringy – about sustaining earnings during a global crisis.
- We all have a critical role to play for society to heal. Nobody wants the economy to crash. Everybody, customers and businesses, want to keep the wheels rolling. Provided that people and customers are treated with respect and we are operating safely, everybody is part of the solution.
- It is an organisation’s responsibility to generate revenue because dozens, hundreds or thousands of human beings depend on its success to be paid and kept safe.
- Business is not just about money right now because working provides fulfilment, meaning and dignity too. More than ever, business gives people a purpose, an opportunity to be useful, to connect and be creative.
Marie Forleo’s podcast really resonated with a chapter I read from #FuturePRoof by Ezri Carlebach on social dialogue, which he defined as “an open and well-governed form of communication between economic interests which have, in the past, seemed contradictory: entrepreneurs and authorities; businesses and social institutions; individual liberty and central planning.”
He then added that social dialogue’s purpose was to generate better outcomes for individuals and stronger communities.
Hence why PR has such an important role to play in the healing of society right now.
First, we need to take care of our staff, our customers and our audiences. Use social dialogue to maintain relationships between our stakeholders.
Secondly, like entrepreneurs, we need to create opportunities enabling us to promote our services because keeping businesses running has become vital to society.
The current challenges offer an opportunity to ask ourselves what we can offer, what our stakeholders need the most and what we stand for. They are giving us a chance to be more creative and caring.