In Malaysia, when we think of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ we generally think of heavy rain and flooding, water shortages, or haze. Despite being inconvenient, we all know how to handle ourselves when these instances arise – drive super slow in heavy rain, get to higher ground when there is a flood warning, have an emergency stockpile of bottled water, and purchase an air purifier for those hazy weeks.
But the extraordinary circumstance that is COVID-19 makes a mockery of the others we have experienced. On the whole, Malaysians were unprepared for the transition to working from home, many businesses lacked an emergency fund, and none of us have any idea what life will look like once we’ve #flattenedthecurve.
Business as usual
This might surprise you, but the best way to survive in a crisis is to keep going. You don’t have to act as if nothing has happened – instead, just keep going as much as you possibly can, while maintaining open communication with all your employees and clients or customers. When so many things are changing, finding ways to keep your routines and tasks on track will help you stay calm and focused. Our business is still operating at full capacity – but rather than working from our office, we’re working from home and finding new solutions when necessary.
Pivoting where necessary
We’re all tired of hearing the word “pivot”, but it’s because it remains one of the best things to do during times of uncertainty, crisis, or rapid change. For example, because we knew clients’ deliverables would change due to the pandemic and that business resources would likely be spread thin, our Singapore team developed an updated rate card tailored to helping businesses with content, PR and communications within 24 hours of the MCOs.
We’ve also been in touch with each and every one of our clients to chat with them about how their strategies need to change, which deliverables should be swapped out, and to extend payment plans and find ways to reduce fees, if needed. Those were hard conversations, but coming out of them gave us a renewed purpose and a new challenge to get cracking on.
Staying in touch
Staying in touch with friends and family is one of the biggest pieces of advice people have been giving during this pandemic – and this goes for staying in touch with business contacts, too. Our clients’ needs can change quickly, and it’s important to remain as responsive as we can. And our media contacts are no different – they’re looking for COVID-19 features now, and we need to know how our clients’ stories fit what they’re looking for.
But beyond checking in with our clients, it’s also important to stay in touch with our colleagues every single day. Our cheerful teams in Singapore and Malaysia are constantly communicating with each other, not just for work, but to check-in on everyone. How are they coping? What’s cooking for lunch? What shenanigans are their kids or pets up to? When our team is not physically present, we make the extra effort to be there for each other.
Preparing for the worst
The famous saying goes, “expect the best, but prepare for the worst”. Though it may sound pessimistic, expecting the best doesn’t seem like such a safe option these days – so instead, we’re hoping to “accept the present and be prepared for the worst”. This is something our founder, Joseph Barratt, did when he changed his entire brewing business – Mutant’s sister company – around overnight, transforming it from an offline B2B brewery and into an online B2C direct sales business.
PR consultants, leaders, managers have to expect that things aren’t going to go as planned in the first instance. There may be many more roadblocks and problems that need to be solved before you can get a story covered or even an idea in front of a prospect – much more so these days than before the crisis. So think about how you can minimise the probability of the worst happening. Ask yourself what you need to do to ensure it doesn’t happen, then put your time, effort, and energy into that plan.
Extraordinary measures are all about making things work despite tough circumstances. Don’t give up! If you can come out of this experience relatively unscathed, just imagine what you can do once the crisis is really over.
If you need guidance to help get you through these tough times, we can help: firstname.lastname@example.org