Earn Goodwill, Find Your Expertise and Be Creative to Prosper in This New Normal

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I just heard Kathryn Hamilton, vice president for marketing and communication at NAIOP (the Commercial Real Estate Development Association), speaking about something common for publishers nowtheir COVID-19 website resource. She said their FAQ page has received a tremendous amount of traffic—and saved staff time—as have their webinar listings. What I found particularly informative is a call for speaker expertise they did.
"We wanted to hear from experts," Hamilton said. "So we went to our membership with a list of topics and said, 'If you are an expert on this topic, we want to hear from you,' and we've gotten a great response."
It was just one example this week of publishers (and entertainment entities) adapting content-wise to our new normal. Pretty much everyone is home. Besides the obvious, what that means is key people might be more available to speak and contribute who normally would not be.
What else might your audiences want now? Here are some ideas from what I've seen and heard:
Earn goodwill. We like uplifting stories. "We know that a lot of our members are doing good things," Hamilton said, mentioning Delta airlines relocating a work site in less than 48 hours to accommodate workers. "So we've invited our members to share their good works with us." Last week, Alicia Evanko Lewis of Northstar Travel Group told us that she created a Silver Lining Social campaign that engaged industry members to share their positive stories amidst the upheaval. It has been a huge success. "Make sure your sales people are reaching out to everyone now," media consultant Jim Elliott said. "You want to show that you care. In August they'll remember you care and that you reached out."
Make kind gestures. Marlene Hendrickson, senior director, publishing and marketing, American Staffing Association, suggested lifting your log-in requirements for your COVID resources. "This is your chance to engage and protect your community. It's the right thing to do!" insideARM has put together a free whitepaper titled Top 4 Issues Collection Strategy Execs Must Consider Now: COVID-19 Edition. EB Medicine is offering its issue titled Novel 2019 Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19): An Updated Overview for Emergency Clinicians for free.
Look for uplifting stories. I heard a stirring interview Monday morning on ESPN Radio with Myron Rolle. He's a former all-American football player at Florida State who decided to forgo an NFL career to become a neurosurgeon—he's now a third-year resident at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was impressive, informative uplifting and entertaining. Who in your audience might stand out at a time like this?
Offer new classes or e-learning. Speakers and instructors will also be losing income for the events and classes that are cancelled. Survey your audience to find what topics could be of the most use right now and ask your top speakers/instructors to lead it. I just got an email for three new online classes at our Theater J here—each around $150 for five sessions. One is led by a top area actress who normally would not be free now.
Be creative with new initiatives. Speaking of theaters, many are coming up with new interview and video series with catchy names. Signature Theatre in Arlington, Va., is introducing a new show called Signature Strong – Live! "Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer will host a live conversation with some of the actors who have become Signature favorites over the years." Tomorrow, Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Md., begins Playwrights on Plays," "the first of many weekly online discussion series with Literary Manager Gabrielle Hoyt and Round House affiliated playwrights! Up first is Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Martyna Majok discussing The Weir. (That's a big get.)
Try that speaker again. Tennis Channel had a fun thing happen this week. Former US Open champion Andy Roddick tweeted that he was available to take part in their live afternoon show—in fact asking them to be hired. They quickly agreed. Now he's a part of Tennis Channel Live, "a talk-show format to keep tennis audiences informed during this unprecedented stoppage in global sports." Did you get turned down by a keynote for an event? Try again. It's also a good lesson that we should keep good relations with possible speakers, even when they can't make it. Elliott's comment about customers remembering in August when sales people checked in on them now applies to other departments as well.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…