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Heather DeSantis’ Tips for Small Business During Covid-19

Heather DeSantis Runs A PR Firm From Her Airstream

Rising Above the Challenges of Business Growth and Relevance Amid a Pandemic.

As we all find ourselves sheltered indoors while the world tries to battle this pandemic, we can’t help but dwell on the precariousness of this new normal we find ourselves in. And it’s a radical shift to how we used to live life, to say the least.

I am the founder and CEO of Publicity for Good (PFG) and Press Demand. Both businesses operate largely online. After attending Georgetown University’s Institute of Philanthropy and Voluntary Service (IPVS) I recognized that running a business without borders was going to be a big key to my success. I travel from state to state on my Airstream, with team members peppered across the country and around the world—so we’re pretty used to running the show remotely. Pre-COVID, our days were already defined by emails, Zoom conference calls, and Slack message exchanges. We were separated by distance, connected only through the Internet, relied on each other’s dedication to get the job done, and still managed to seamlessly run a successful, award-winning agency, even earning a Forbes 30 Under 30 Nomination for myself. 

In short, the world’s new normal was already our standard. For all intents and purposes, it’s business as usual at PFG when the pandemic started. But it sure hits different when you know that this global shift to working from home was prompted by uncertainty—and it’s an ever-present dark cloud that seems to be hanging over our heads these days.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that this current predicament we find ourselves in also seems to weigh even heavier on entrepreneurs. Our businesses are our babies, our employees are our families, our customers and clients are our friends. And even while we are navigating uncharted territory, we want to be able to stay positive, offer security, create opportunity, and weather through what is arguably one of the toughest times we could possibly ever face as business owners

I lead a team of 13 people who, like me, depend on the stability of this business to survive this crisis–so you better believe that I’m doing all that I can to ensure my business continues to offer security for my employees and value for my clients. So indulge me, if you will, by allowing me to share with you how I am able to do this successfully in the past few weeks—

  1. Yes, we’re all tired of coronavirus-related content—but don’t gloss over reality either

Many businesses are going out of their way to shift to non-virus related content.

We need more positive news,” “People are tired of reading the same things over and over,” “Audiences want a distraction from the doom and gloom of the pandemic…”

In a sense, they’re right. But it would be tone-deaf to completely gloss over it as well.

The challenges of being quarantined at home, the health risks the medical frontliners and essential workers are facing, the economic toll the pandemic is causing, all these  are realities that so many of us, if not all, are facing today. It would be a disservice and disrespectful to everyone steeped in the hardships this pandemic has caused to simply ignore it. 

But that’s not to say that we can’t shift the tone from negative to positive either. If you have something to say, and the platform to say it, I strongly encourage you to be hopeful and positive. Staying positive doesn’t mean we have to be insensitive to what’s happening to the world; staying relevant doesn’t mean we won’t be able to get our message across. And as it happens, this is the best way for brands and businesses to stay relevant and have a voice that can be heard above all the coronavirus news. 

  1. Think outside the box—explore opportunities that allow you to diversify your revenue stream

You know your business inside/ out. While always an advantage, this level of focus and expertise tends to make it difficult for you to recognize opportunities outside of your own niche.

If you take a step back however, you’ll realize that there are so many other revenue streams that you could explore in an effort to diversify your income sources and build more financial stability. For example, with people currently under home quarantine, the rise of online masterclasses have been unprecedented. If you can find a way to translate your expertise into an easy to follow course, this can be a great addition to your bottomline.

Take stock of what you have to offer and see how you can translate your training and skills into something tangible that audiences today can make the most out of. 

  1. The new normal hit brick-and-mortar businesses the hardest—try to find what you can do online in the meantime

The impact the pandemic made on brick-and-mortar businesses that rely heavily on physical foot traffic has been devastating. Understandably, these companies are doing as much as they can to minimize the fallout for their own employees. But while doing so, consider if there are opportunities that you could be missing online. 

For starters, making adjustments on your operations might make it possible for you to continue operations online–perhaps shifting to online marketplaces and partnering with delivery services will allow you to keep your business operational. 

But beyond that, don’t forget that your audiences right now are listening. They have nowhere else to be but on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn….it’s a great time to make your presence felt on all these platforms. Stay top of mind by creating content that will engage, inform, and entertain. 

  1. Don’t forget your team members

As business owners, it’s understandable if we end up getting too focused on making sure that our companies keep running smoothly amid this crisis. But please take the time to address the unspoken uncertainty that your team members might be having right now as well. 

These are uncertain, scary times. And what little positivity you can bring to the table matters more to your team members than you can imagine. If you can give them a little pep talk and assure them of their job security, do so. If you want to express your appreciation for their hard work and dedication during this time, it’s a moving gesture that won’t be soon forgotten. 

I’m a big believer in transparency—it helps build loyalty and strengthen relationships between myself and my team. And ultimately, this will go a long way towards creating a culture that remains driven and focused on long term goals.

  1. Always give back

Pre-coronavirus business trends already tell us that customers tend to prefer brands with clear corporate social responsibility programs in place. This fact holds truer than ever today.

Not all businesses are in a position to survive the economic impact of this pandemic. Loss of businesses means loss of jobs and livelihood. And already, we are seeing the devastation it is causing on countless people all over the world. If you can find a way to incorporate giving back and helping out in whatever way you can during this time, do so. The world needs generosity, kindness, and compassion, now, more than ever. The fact that it also happens to be good for your business is just a great, big plus.

It’s impossible to definitively say how our businesses will emerge from this crisis. But I am hopeful that it’s creating a fundamental opportunity to reinvent how we do business and how we can grow our companies for the better.


Got questions?

Connect with Heather on Instagram https://instagram.com/heatherdesantis

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/heather.desantis.

Company website: https://publicityforgood.com/ 

Or send an email to heather@publiicityforgood.com

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