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PR-ING THROUGH CORONAVIRUS: SMALL BUSINESS HELP AND ADVICE

Coronavirus has caused truly extraordinary times, the UK – as well as several other countries – is currently on a lockdown. The first of its time.

Travel has been limited to all but essential movement, many businesses (such as restaurants, non-essential retail stores and gyms) have been forced to close their doors for the foreseeable future and the healthcare industry is under perhaps its biggest strain that this generation has ever seen. Because of current climate, we can’t shy away from the fact that many businesses are struggling. Whether you’ve had to temporarily cease trading altogether, or whether your customers are less inclined to part with their money due to the uncertainty at the moment – either way most organisations are feeling the pinch one way or another.

It’s not all bad news, however.

Though the current economic climate is bleak, and though many are struggling, we have also been given the gift of something that we wouldn’t normally have: time.

Now is not the time for radio silence, now is the time to be strengthening your brand message, communicating effectively and giving back to the community wherever you’re able. Whilst some brands have taken the stance of radio silence as the Coronavirus epidemic plays out, many others have adjusted and reacted to the current climate, and have been in a better position for it.

You have time to work on your strategies, to work on your brand position and to ensure that when this comes to pass, your business will emerge bigger and better than ever before.

If you’re a small business or an SME and struggling, there are a number of ways you can help yourself during this pandemic.

Small Business Coronavirus Help: How To Support Yourself

The government has already introduced revolutionary support for small businesses. Initiatives include a small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief, grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. This is as well as the job retention scheme put in place.

While this might be a short-term solution to an otherwise unnerving situation, it’s also crucial for small businesses to think about their long-term plans too.

Below, we’ve racked our PR, Social Media and Marketing brains together to bring you the very best advice on how your business can survive through Coronavirus; how to keep marching on through these uncertain times and how to effectively retain your brand image and position.

Don’t Give Up On Your Team

First and foremost, you need to trust your team.

Unlike many business crises, we’re all in this together and there are many businesses from various industries that are all feeling the strain that Coronavirus has brought about. In most business cases, your team will be instrumental to your survival during this period, so before adjusting your business strategies, you should be providing your team with the technology and support needed to undertake their work and trust that they will continue to deliver remotely.

Trust opens the door to productivity; the more you give, the more you get back.

Keep On Communicating

Effective communication has never been more important.

You should be keeping your communication channels open. You may appear closed to the outside world but it’s important to share the business’s contingencies, its plans and any changes in service. Share your successes or small wins and remember your customers and stakeholders are interested in people-centric stories, as well as positive outcomes in otherwise difficult circumstances.

There’s a strong demand in the media for any positive news amidst all this negativity, so if your business has something good to share this might be a good way of spreading your news further afield and making sure that people are still engaged with your brand.

Adding to this, there’s a new sense of community re-emerging – if your business has changed how it operates or is supporting others, such as pubs offering delivery services to those in need, make sure you share this. Social media usage has increased by 22% since lockdown and provides an excellent community engagement tool which may prove beneficial in the longer term.

Though you may not be trading at the moment, it’s important not to lose momentum. Make sure people still remember who your business is, what you do. Whether this is by maintaining an active social media presence, writing blogs for your website or even appearing in the news – don’t let people forget you if you want to continue to operate a successful business when this storm has passed.

Adapt And Evolve With The Climate

If your business can accommodate it, adaptability is important right now.

Under new government restrictions, many businesses can no longer trade as usual. Is there a way you can overcome this, and support your community too? For example, many restaurants are now offering takeaways and are giving out free meals whilst they do so, which is great in strengthening the business’ Corporate Social Reputation.

Could you keep your cashflow afloat by encouraging your stakeholders to purchase vouchers from you that can be redeemed at a later date?

Other examples of how companies may adapt during the Coronavirus period is by taking advantage of the technology we have at our disposal.

Could you give your consumers a digital version of your product or service to retain your custom? Some housebuilders are now operating fully online house viewings, whilst organisations such as Chester Zoo are livestreaming a day at the zoo on Facebook to the masses.

If your business can think of a quirky and imaginative way to stay relevant, it will almost certainly survive this uncertain period.

Create A Contingency Plan – Prepare For The Future

Plan for your future, because if you adopt the right attitude, there almost certainly will be one.

Can you create a contingency plan for your business?

Though there are so many things uncertain at the moment, if you can begin to strategize and plan your bounce-back for when this comes to pass, you’ll be in a more favourable position when the market reopens once more. Make sure you’re well prepared.

Whilst we all have extra time on our hands, we can make the most of this: working on our websites, our SEOs, or even developing social media or PR strategies.

The most important thing to add to your contingency plan, for now and for the future, is a plan that sees your business remaining adept in its industry. Make sure that people don’t forget your brand. Whether this is by thinking of a new and imaginative way to run your business (such as the examples above), or whether it’s just making sure you upkeep a strong media presence. If your company steps into the shadows during this period, it’ll be much harder for it to re-emerge when it’s over.

Also, be prepared for radical change once more when lockdown is over and when the virus dissipates. When you can reopen your doors again, you’ll almost certainly be met with a different audience than the one you’ve come to know. After recovering from the most governed period of their lives, there’s no doubt that people will be more appreciative. They’ll want to explore more, they’ll want to travel more, they’ll want to eat out more and they’ll want to buy more things.

We’ll have a more spontaneous and obligated population on our hands, so make sure your business is prepared to accommodate them.

Do you need PR, Marketing or Social Media support for your business? Either in handling the Coronavirus outbreak, or preparing for when it’s over? Call us for a free, confidential assessment of your situation on 01829 720 789 or email louis@sourcepr.co.uk.

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