A short story. Way back when, one of my first pre-Uni jobs was in the City of London. At that age I had no idea what I wanted to do in life so I'd replied to one of those small ads that used to pepper the back of the Evening Standard, the one’s that promise to have you rolling in wads of money, quick...
Predictably, it turned out to be a selling job at a broker, promoting a futures and options business. The interview took place in a grubby first floor office, just off Oxford Street. There were five candidates including myself. All of the others were recent graduates… can’t lie, I felt a bit intimidated.
The interviewer posed just one question. 'You’ve made some money and want to set up an import business. You can base it in London, Paris, Berlin or Kabul. Which location would you pick and why?’
He worked his way around the room, listening patiently as the others explained their perfectly sound, well-argued rationales for locating themselves in one of the big European capitals. Lots of potential customers, established retail/distribution infrastructure, straightforward transport links etc.
‘And what about you, Rai?’
‘I’d base it in Kabul.’
His eyebrows raised.
‘Why would you do that, the city’s been bombed to bits by the Russians, it’s a basket case!’
‘That’s exactly why I’d go there,’ I responded. ‘Most businesses will avoid it because it’s a war zone but that also means that anyone who took a chance would potentially stand to make far higher profits. They’ll have way less competition, supply will be limited and so they’ll be able to charge higher prices.’
The other candidates looked at me, visibly aghast. The interviewer smiled and drew the session to a close. I got the job.
Sure, it turned out to be a rubbish gig (all commission, no base salary) but I learned that the those who could see opportunity in adversity were a valued commodity. That ability, to spot the upside of an otherwise dire looking situation, is a strength in any business and one that matters as much today as it ever did.
As we wade through the current virus-fuelled recession, most marketing directors will instinctively want to cut back on PR, to wait until times get better before spending again. That’s the exact opposite of what they should be doing…
When competitors are falling silent and pulling back, the ROI on every pound you spend on a well-judged strategic marketing and PR campaign is massively magnified. Precisely because there’s less competing noise.
Tell your story via PR now and it’ll cut through far more effectively. In these depressing times the media, bloggers and influencers are hungrier than ever for good news and consumers will pay much more attention to whatever does get published online, in print and via social media.
And when the upturn does finally come - as it will - your brand will then find itself in a stronger position than it was before we all got used to wearing masks and keeping our distance from each other.
The take-away? Don’t let fear blind you to the opportunity that’s staring at you right now. It might be a while before it comes around again…