R influenceRs

10 + Ways To Help Small Businesses Right Now!

 

We are the behind the curtain folks, the weavers of words, the people that help share passion and spread good news! I am writing this as, like many of you and like most of the world, I want to save all the restaurants, bars, and small businesses we can from the hardships being immediately faced. I feel like every morning I wake up and see someone else I care about posting about making a hard decision with their business, and it seems that although we are practicing things like “social distancing”—a phrase I never have used in my life as both an extrovert and a lover of people—we are also in the midst of times where supporting and giving services is needed more than ever. As communications pros, we can be a beacon of hope during these strange and difficult times—we are the messengers to the media, we are the media, we move the needle from fear to fearless by being courageous and creative innovators in a time of great need! So I ask, HOW can we help—now? I’ve listed some of R teams ideas below on ways to support clients, media friends, and most of all each other. Let us know what you’d add, too, we are here to bounce ideas, support and share! Let’s do this!

 

  1. Pick up the phone. Get off email and CALL your people—they need you. They’re reading the news and social media and seeing their friends close down and make difficult decisions—offer creative solutions that can help them weather this storm (an abbreviated but awesome take-out menu, clever delivery options, etc). Read this again, CALL and connect, it makes a world of difference—trust me.

 

  1. Source ideas with other professionals. If you are like me, you have been writing crisis communication plans, scraping all the content you planned for this month and next and next and gearing up for a daily swipe of your ideas—you need some creative support! Call, text, and email fellow communications pros! This is the time to give extra hours, time, and talents to each other to support the world of small businesses. THIS is our time to really support each other and get over any fear that someone will take your client or idea. In this case, we all need to save this sinking ship for EVERYONE and we are the answers. 

 

  1. Be a marketing genius. During the Great Depression, furniture stores offered free incentives called “Depression glass” (like a plate or a teacup) and people went wild shopping for furniture just to get the free glasses, even when they didn’t have much. Today a tiny Depression tea glass is worth $25-$75 (some more), and these were given out for free to our grandmothers. Who came up with that idea? A MARKETING GENIUS, that’s who. Us marketing pros are the people behind the curtain and we get to show off our most genius ideas—often in the most desperate times. Just this week alone I have seen café owners delivering goods, celebrities reading storybooks online, museums offering free tours, and even Disney taking viewers on virtual rides. The internet is blowing up and our ideas are just waiting to take off and find value with our clients. So do what you need to be risky and wise and get someone to sign up for something they never thought they would—it WILL work!
  1. Be calm + confident, be collected, and know this too shall pass. If we hold our visions our clients will too, and we are the ones who help document and execute those visions. So it is up to us to be calm in the storm when they need to freak out because their business is taking turns they never imagined. Be confident. Know you were hired because you are smart, talented and clients can count on you to share their message—that’s you!

 

  1. Be mindful of your words instead of “hard times” change that up for “things are constantly changing” instead of “closing” change that up for “we will open as soon as we can.” Words have power and now more than ever WE are responsible for encouraging clients and media to lessen the drastic language and fear and see things as a work in progress. As the truth is this is actually a golden opportunity to be creative with businesses, and those that know how to pivot and stay calm will be the ones on top after the storm blows over.

 

  1. Be generous with your time. We need to write more blog posts, edit more press releases and help more than we probably ever have before—now is the time to get our boots dirty. It’s hard work, but so worth it! 

 

  1. Shop, shop, shop. Buy all the things—get merch, get gift cards, and practice what you are preachin’ sister!

 

  1. Make your pitches short and sweet and with all information in digestible deets—who, what, where, and website links—and nothing else! We don't want to make more work for our media friends who are getting more emails than ever right now. 

 

  1. Share other people’s creative work—not just your clients. Ask and offer fellow comm friends ways you can lend a helping hand! Giving truly makes the world of difference in stressful situations.

 

  1. BE KIND yourself included, take a bath, do an online yoga class, pour a glass of wine at the end of the day, whatever gets you to zen. You can’t save the world if you aren’t taking care of you and from there sprinkle out the good witch vibes and let people know they have had the power to change and shift and grow within them the whole time. (‘nuff said).

From friends in the comm worlds:

“Entertain and engage! This is the time to show your audience your brand value through digital marketing by giving them what they need the most right now. Something to do. You literally have a captive audience, so don’t waste that opportunity with your average content. Find creative ways to entertain and engage your audience. A great way to do that is through mixed media: video, graphics, motion graphics, email campaigns, etc. Create giveaways, quizzes, and games! The more your audience feels supported by your brand during this time, the more brand loyalty they will reciprocate when things go back to normal.” Sarah Wlliams (digital marketing guru)

 

Have something to add? Please share!

 


From Sequins & Suspenders to Oh, Eleanora: A RebRand That Captured R Attention

In 2014, Ellie Leeper started a San Antonio lifestyle blog with her fiancé Dan Morrison. At the time, she'd seen plenty of local ladies blogging, but there weren't many couples highlighting the enriching lifestyle that she felt our city had to offer. As a mutual hobby project, she and her now husband Dan started Sequins & Suspenders.

The blog was a fun way to document cultural events, life at Pearl, wedding planning and personal style. As she became more comfortable creating and maneuvering in the digital space, Ellie took over the blog’s content management while working full time during the day as the Public Relations Manager for a local nonprofit pediatric healthcare organization. But over the summer of 2016, she started wondering about her career direction and her passions in life. "I started having the what am I doing with my life thoughts," Ellie said.

Toward the end of the summer, the Universe seemed to send her the message she was asking for. However, she wasn’t expecting the way it was delivered: on a Friday afternoon in mid-September, her entire professional life changed unexpectedly, flipping her world completely upside down. Her company had a huge round of layoffs and Ellie was the first of the 30+ cut. She was fired. It was a devastating blow, but the timing couldn't have been more perfect. Ellie picked herself up by the bootstraps, and she took the rest of 2016 to explore where her heart actually wanted to be. She hadn't considered blogging as a career path, but the more she wrote, the more she started to realize that it was one area of her life that fulfilled her.

She'd been struggling to find herself after the firing. Feelings of inadequacy and questions of her professional worth had started to haunt her. She knew that in order to overcome this obstacle and turn her situation into a positive, she had to grow something of her own that was rooted in honesty and authenticity: a validation of her voice, her efforts and her talents. She needed to create the soul project that would get her back in the game- but in the right way. (She wrote an inspiring post about this time period, and how to overcome rejection and use it in your favor. We highly recommend reading it HERE.)

After some soul searching, Ellie decided to make a go of professional blogging toward the end of 2016. But she knew that her site needed a fresh perspective and the perfect personalized name. It was time for a rebRand

As a place to start this process, Ellie looked to her past for clues about her character and how others perceived her. After thinking about her personal relationships, she realized that many friends relied on her as both a confidant, and also the friend who influenced and motivated those around her to reach for their dreams. Ellie realized she was someone people liked to open up to, and it fulfilled her to be that person for her friends.
It was during the holidays last year, when she was around her extended family and most in-touch with who and what made her the person she is, when she realized that the new blog direction was going to be one with mission and focus. It would be quality content that encouraged her digital female friends to create the lives they wanted to lead.

Although undecided on the name, she knew she would be incorporating motivational and inspirational posts into her new brand as something that would set her apart from the typical style blogger. She wanted her new platform to be a source of encouragement for women who needed a cheerleader. It was what her friends and colleagues seemed to need. But deep down, it's what she needed too.

After returning from the holidays and getting back into her routine, it was now a New Year, and time to decide on the new name for her revamped blog. She thought about the times she felt most herself…the most natural. Ellie is known by those closest to her for her big and entertaining personality. As a child, she loved to be silly and funny and “perform” for her family. Every time she would show her joyful, theatrical, silly self, her mother and grandmother would lovingly say, "Oh, Eleanora." As soon as this memory surfaced, a light bulb went off in her head: Ellie knew that this had to be her personal bRand. Immediately, she went to work designing her new website.

The world knew her as Ellie, but family knew her as Eleanora. She was named after her great-grandmother, and Ellie felt a strong sense of self-identity in her full name. It was that feeling of belonging that really led her to her new brand.

Ellie was done trying to be what everyone else was, and do what everyone else was doing. Her new brand identity was born from a very real place. Her “why” revealed itself organically, authentically, and it was true to who she was inside.

Oh, Eleanora took off like lightning. Ellie added new editorial features, such as the popular Grit + Grace profiles, that are a public space for women’s inspiring stories to be celebrated and encouraged. "Why would women only want to read about me?" Ellie said. "There are so many ladies in my personal and professional networks who are doing amazing things. If I featured one per week, I would have editorial content for years."

And she was right. The greatest traffic on her site comes from these features of women leading the lives they love. She is passionate about highlighting the ways in which women can have it all, and all of the ways women can define what "it all" means to them.

The greatest advice Ellie has for a successful rebRand is to find your "why," and then commit it to action. The more Ellie discovers who she is and how to use her voice for the benefit of others, the higher her success continues to climb. Now people across the country see her shining from deep in the heart of Texas, and we can collectively say with admiration, "Oh Eleanora!"

 

Written By Crystal Henry, R national pitcher all photos are credited to Oh Eleanora blog