There are a lot of stories, articles and resources out there instructing you on what you should be doing as a chamber professional right now.
It can be overwhelming.
But the groundwork you’re laying today will help protect your businesses and community from further economic problems after the pandemic is over.
It’s going to be rough.
It’s already that way.
You can do all the right things as a chamber and there still are going to be business closures in your area.
In fact, in a recent report released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 43% of businesses see permanent closure as something that will happen to them within the next six months should things continue the way they are. Those are permanent closures, not temporary ones to get through the virus.
To be clear: 43% of businesses don’t think they’ll make it if this is the new normal.
That type of news is devastating to all of us, not just the business owner and employees.
All over social media you’ll see posts about “we’re in it together” and “we are stronger together.”
Still, for those of you leading the charge and acting as the voice of business it can feel like a very lonely place right now. “Heavy is the head that wears the crown. “
There is Hope and Opportunity Though
But there are some things that you can do to restore hope in your community and help yourself not feel so overwhelmed.
The chamber is a natural fit to spread some of the really good news in your community. And it is there even if the past few days have left you wondering.
People respond to good news.
They want to hear about it and since you’re not worried about selling copies of papers, you can help lead that. The chamber can encourage people to have hope and faith that prosperity will return simply by sharing stories.
Positive stories about your community will get shares and get people talking.
They are enough news outlets, bloggers, health care professionals, and other people in the trenches who are willing to share the statistics and the medical facts that aren’t looking too promising right now.
You can be a voice and beacon of hope to the businesses in your community.
7 Types of Stories/Information You Should Be Sharing
Here are the stories you should be telling and the uplifting information you should be sharing :
Companies That Are Hiring
Yes, there are businesses that are still hiring.
In fact, there are some businesses that are having a hard time keeping up with demand. Share the details behind who they’re looking for, how many spots they have to hire, the hours, and how to apply.
You may want to consider creating a special graphic just for new jobs so that when people see that graphic they will know that it’s an employment opportunity. When they see that in their social media stream, it will fill them with hope even if it’s not the type of job they’re looking for.
Make sure your staff, board, and ambassadors share this type of good news everywhere. Soon your new job graphic will be highly recognized and a sign of hope to your community.
Companies That Are Switching Gears
In wartime and times of trouble, the U.S. government is able to ask companies to make changes to production in order to meet demand. But there are some companies in your community who are already doing this.
For instance, many distilleries have changed their production from alcohol to hand sanitizer. They are giving away this hand sanitizer for free to individuals and providing it to medical and health care facilities for a fee.
Tell their story.
Maybe you have an organization that has put its employees to work sewing masks.
Tell their story.
Focus on those helping to provide a solution. Highlight their efforts and put a spotlight on their employees. When appropriate, share with the community what these companies need to do more. You may have people at home who want to help but they’re not sure how.
There are likely thousands of people in your area providing essential services now. You’ve probably already created a graphic thanking them for their efforts. But it’s also a good idea to tell their story. Help people understand what these brave individuals leave behind every day.
I know of one healthcare professional who is living in a separate bedroom away from her family so as not to risk infecting them. She works about 16 hours a day in research trying to find solutions as quickly as possible.
And there are hundreds of thousands of people working far less glamorous jobs than that who are also sacrificing time with family to help the greater good. Focus on your neighborhood pharmacist or the stock boy at the grocery store who has a smile for everyone.
Ask people in your community to nominate a local hero. Showcase the stories of as many of these people as you can. Focus on the helpers and what others can do to join them.
One of the hardest hit areas the community often doesn’t think about is the creatives. After all, people aren’t buying art, going to plays, listening to bands, or hiring writers. These individuals often live paycheck to paycheck. Highlight some of their stories. Give people ways to support them. For instance, tell the story of a local band. Share with your audience where they can buy a music download. Invite others to talk about their creations as well.
It’s true these creatives aren’t your ideal market as chamber members, but they often bring in people from other towns to your area to see their art, watch their performances, or hear their music. Supporting their efforts can make your town a more inviting place.
Companies That Are Restructuring for Their Employees
There are many companies in your community who have changed how they operate so that they can keep their employees working as long as possible. For instance, many restaurants that didn’t have takeout before are now offering it and it’s their wait staff that’s doing the driving. Assisted living places are putting their dining room staff to work in other roles like coordinating deliveries and bringing meals to rooms. A content marketing agency is bringing its content writing in house (instead of with freelancers) so that their editor employees continue to have a job to do.
These companies have made sacrifices to ensure their employees are taken care of first. They’re trying to avoid layoffs and keep their employee family intact for as long as possible. Highlight their efforts because it may inspire another organization.
Whether you look to historic examples of how your community came together in the face of disasters in the past and overcame the challenge or you highlight individuals who had struggles in their business early on and how they triumphed, the story of the underdog getting the win is a powerful one. That’s the type of story people share with others because it makes them feel good and it makes everything seem possible.
Community Good News
Have you seen the video that’s gone viral on social media about the SGN (Some Good News) network with John Krasinksi? It’s taken off because people are starving for good news. As of this writing, the YouTube channel SomeGoodNews has 981,000 subscribers with 11,000,000 views.
Create your own hometown version.
Listen on social media for what people are sharing in your town and highlight the good news. You can do what he did and dress up like a news anchor presenting all the great things that are going on around you. It’s the ideal way to restore hope and give people some good stuff to talk about for a change.
Remember as you tell these stories, the focus shouldn’t be on raising money for these people. That’s a nice bonus if it happens. What you are trying to do is raise hope, raise awareness, and help people feel better about the things going on in their community.
These stories should be about tenacity and grit. They should highlight what these special individuals and groups are doing to make the community a better place and how other people can do the same.
As you tell the stories of the heroes in your community, keep in mind they don’t all have to follow the format of member spotlight. Sometimes it can just be a quick shout out to them on social media. Other times, you may want to do a video or an interview to talk to them about how they’re helping in the community. Think about the form of media that would be most effective for showcasing these everyday heroes and tag them when appropriate.
People want something to feel good about. Let’s face it. We have enough reason to feel bad currently. There are plenty of outlets providing us with upsetting details about our current situation.
While you never want to be the group who ignores the bad news, there’s no reason why we can’t all start shining a little light on our communities.