Adapting to Change, Remembering to Give, and Staying Grounded
Here we are in month three of these—you know what’s coming—uncertain times. We’re still focused on the impact of the coronavirus, and it’s not looking like that will shift anytime soon. Though us Midwesterners finally have something else to talk about besides the weather, I would personally love to never hear the term “COVID-19” uttered ever again. Alas, it’s far better to face realty than to evade it with an ignorance-is-bliss mentality. As a business owner, it’s an impossible realty to ignore. As a business owner of a business publication, well, it’s been interesting.
At first, I wasn’t sure how advertisers would respond. Our client base is obviously made up of a wide variety of industries that have been affected in different ways and to different extents—from restaurants and hotels to construction and senior health. The worst-case scenario was that everyone would want to pull or pause all their marketing efforts. Thankfully, businesses are realizing that it’s better to change their message than to have no message at all. As I discussed in last month’s issue, this is an opportune time for organizations to define or, in some cases, redefine their brand. I’ve loved seeing ads that read “We miss you!” or explain the ways they are continuing to serve their clients and the community.
I also had to field questions regarding how our reach and distribution would be affected. Since we are a print publication, directly mailed to over 10,000 businesses in Lincoln and over 15,000 businesses in Omaha every month, the work-from-home initiative was definitely something we had to address and overcome. The thing is, executives and business owners are still receiving their mail, even if they are doing the majority of their work remotely. To counter the decrease in circulation around the office, we dropped magazines off at local grocery stores and, of course, made sure people knew that everything is available online—which we have always done. Not only is all the editorial published on our website, we make a digital flipbook of each issue available for anyone and everyone to access for free.
As we saw our online traffic numbers spike these past few months, we also heard more positive feedback about print magazines. Since people are forced to do so many things virtually these days, the appreciation for something that is right in front of you and actually tangible is higher than ever. I think people get burned out on logging in, scrolling, clicking, swiping, etc. It feels good to hold something in your hands.
In addition to the uncertainty I had around how the advertising would be affected, I also took things day by day on the editorial front. I knew our feature stories would have to take a different angle, and some would have to be pulled completely, but I was interested to see what the headlines were going read in our news sections. Of course, there were a few announcing postponed or canceled events, but I’ve been so encouraged to find many that are about organizations coming together to support each other during this time—especially in the nonprofit sector.
Our nonprofits meet so many needs in our community, such as homeless outreach, sex trafficking prevention, funding for critical treatments, youth mentorship, advocacy for the disabled, ministry, and so much more. As many of these organizations had to cancel their largest fundraiser of the year, or at the very least push it back, it’s put a strain on their source of funding. This is why it’s important for us to not forget about supporting them as we normally would if things were, well, normal. The same goes with tithing at church, helping your neighbors, and the like.
The last thing I want to address in my letter this month is the social divide being formed as the economy starts to open back up, in all its masked glory. This is something that came up for discussion during the Friends4Lunch event Strictly Business hosted on Zoom in May, and someone made a very grounded observation that I’d like to reiterate here. No matter what school of thought you subscribe to—“too soon” or “finally”—there is information out there to justify your opinion. It’s not about being right, it’s about being respectful.
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