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Staying the course

Wow! So much has changed since the last time I sat down to write this column. It’s crazy to believe that’s it’s only been a few months ago. Yet as I write to you, everything has changed. This is especially true, if you’re a business owner.

By the time you read this, it will be summer and at the rapid pace we’re moving, it’s difficult to predict where we will be. I decided to write about our need for stability. In the areas where we can remain grounded, I’m advocating for time-tested communications practices like consistency and staying true to our mission. I know that many have suggested that it’s time to pivot and perhaps, you’ve needed to take a turn here and there, but where at all possible I humbly suggest to stay the course.

As a communications professional, when I see businesses being advised to completely redirect from their mission because of a crisis to jump on the bandwagon with what everyone else is doing, I feel alarm signals go off inside me. Why? Because public relations and marketing are like the conscience of a business. We’re the feelers who read the room of what’s happening in the world, our communities and organizations. If you’re in the C-Suite, or a business owner, and you’re looking for solutions, ask your marketing team, or find a creative colleague to offer input.

While it’s tempting and easy to follow the lead of every webinar and idea out there, the danger in chasing advice, is that when this is over in six months, or a year from now, is that you could find yourself off-course making some new kind of widget, or doing something that’s not really aligned with your vision. You’ll be wondering how you got there. The answer will be mission drift. You followed the pivot straight into a mission drift. Then you will need to spend valuable time and resources to find your way back.

So, what should you do instead?

  1. Don’t Be a Noise Maker: Avoid getting caught up in all the noise that’s out there. Yes, it can seem like we need to be creating more and more content right now, but is that really true? Do you personally want to consume more content? I’m guessing your answer is probably no. So, don’t give into the pressure to be a content farm. Ask what is the purpose of what you’re creating and how does it relate to the mission before starting something new. Instead, be a listener. Look at your strategic plan or take time now to write one, if you don’t have one.
  2. Say Pivot One More Time! Not all pivots are bad. Some are necessary. For example, restaurants and other small businesses offering curbside services. What you want to do is make sure any pivots you make are intentional and an extension of your mission. Ask-Will I be able to continue to offer this ongoing, when this is over? Is it sustainable long-term?
  3. Watching a Webinar Does Not Equate Mastery: Let’s talk about webinars. I can almost see your eyes rolling because mine have been too. There have been so many and it can be overwhelming. Instead of trying to learn too many new things, why not try to increase your mastery in one, or two areas your business already serves in?
  4. Is That How I Really Look on Camera? Here’s a fun tip you can try, if you’ve been video conferencing a lot. Go back and watch some of the recordings. It’s painful, but you’ll learn so much by watching yourself on video. When this is all over, you’ll be a better speaker in-person, and on video.

I hope you’ll find these helpful and I look forward seeing Central Illinois businesses again soon!