Business as Usual in Unusual Times

By Shirar O’Connor, Senior Vice President, Unpinned

It would be an understatement to say that we live in unprecedented times, but here we are.

I am not going to restate what you already know and what you have heard on the news, so I am going to get right to the topic at hand, as an economic developer, how are you going to keep moving forward, building your pipeline and remaining productive while working from home?

As economic development professionals, we don’t have the luxury of letting our pipelines go dry or remaining inactive for too long. The world is a competitive place and we know we must remain top of mind with the companies we are engaging.

We have a lot working against us, trade shows and travel are on hold, but the things we have working for us are significant. Remember, almost everyone around the world is in the same boat, working from home and working to navigate the new normal of doing business remotely.

The things in our favor are:

Time – we all have a bit more time on our hands these days.
Distractions – we have fewer distractions such as travel and meetings.
Like Minded – most of us feel the same way, we want to be as productive as possible so people will be more open to communication.

This all translates into more opportunities to engage in meaningful ways with the companies we have already engaged with and the executives and companies we have been putting on the back burner.

My team has been using videoconferencing, and although not perfect, it is working and it is much more personal than a conference call.

Interactions on social media have increased. Be sure to use your social media channels to share information about your jurisdiction and amplify the messages you want to communicate. (Remember to balance your messaging, as we are in uncharted waters with COVID 19. Make sure your messaging is appropriate for the times.

If you are engaging foreign companies and active in foreign markets, start to explore opening social media channels in their markets, i.e. their equivalent of LinkedIn.

Advertising is also an option. People will be reading more and looking at more online sources. This is a good time to advertise to remain top of mind and to build your brand.

I would also recommend that you not take your foot off the gas with your public relations activities and other promotions that don’t require human interaction. Remember, media interviews can always take place over videoconference.

You can also use this time to touch base with companies you have on your target list, communicate with your network, and stakeholders. We all have to take a step back from our day-to-day, so we should value this time and use it wisely.

The message is simple, don’t pull back on communication, promotions and engagement with your pipeline because of the pandemic. Demonstrate that your community carries on in crisis and adapts to unprecedented situations.

None of us know how long this will last, but if we adapt and carry on with business as best as we can, we’ll come out on the other end in a stronger position.

Shirar O’Connor is the Senior Vice President at Unpinned

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