At the height of the pandemic the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that over 50% of small businesses were projected to temporarily shut down because of COVID-19. 20% of small businesses reported that they were transitioning to some level of teleworking, while 17% of retailers’ operations moved to virtual or digital platforms.
Today, as businesses begin to reopen, the biggest concerns for 54% of small businesses is a lack of profitability due to a decrease in customers. Nearly 45% report to be facing a combination of challenges related to social distancing and other health requirements. That’s why communicating re-opening plans to local media and customers should be a priority.
Retailers that pivoted to digital selling platforms and restauranteurs who succeeded in shifting to delivery and curbside did a great job of getting the word. Now, they need to let the public know that they are re-opening their premises and inform shoppers and diners of any stipulations such as capacity, mask requirements and appointment/reservation restrictions.
While operations managers ready their venues for re-opening in the “new normal” retail and entertainment environments, public relations professionals stand ready to help small businesses ensure that their existing customers – and potential new ones – know all the details of their re-opening, hours and timelines. Tried and true publicity tactics that professionals employ for re-openings include:
- Writing a targeted news release announcing the re-opening, including any specials or sales as well as hours and any need for appointments or other restrictions.
- Pitching the news to all local media and encouraging them to run articles and TV segments on the local business – its successful pivots during the pandemic and future plans for an exciting future.
- Updating websites to reflect current and changing hours and offerings.
- Maintaining a flow of social media content that keeps the business top-of-mind among its audiences.
An estimated 25% of small businesses plan to increase investments post-pandemic. Hiring a public relations professional is an investment that can mean the difference between re-opening with lots of fanfare and re-opening with none. The question small businesses owners should ask themselves isn’t whether they need PR to re-open, it’s how they can re-open without PR.