To quote Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
I believe I speak for most when I say all the above has gone through our minds over the past weeks or month as we as a nation and individually have come face-to-face with an unseen enemy, COVID-19. Despite those human thoughts we all entertain at times in the deepest shadows of our minds, leaders will find ways to work beyond those negatives and move into the light. The light is where each of us must find ourselves, not only for our family, but also for our communities. Your community is thirsting for positive and innovative people stepping to the plate and leading. Here some ideas we might use, regardless of where we reside within the framework of the local community.
• Business owners need to innovate their practices. I read of a pizza restaurant in New York asking everyone calling in to order a pizza, if they wanted to order two. They would then donate one of the pizzas to first responders, hospitals, veteran homes, homeless shelters, Red Cross and like organizations. They report an overwhelming response and it is truly a win-win-win. The business wins with increased revenue during a very difficult time. The community wins as many organizations are supported. The residents win because they have an opportunity to assist their community. This is the time that business owners need to become more creative. Media companies need to be at the forefront of this type of innovation and ready to promote and market those business solutions.
• Communities need great media websites. This is a great opportunity for local media companies to assure they provide a top-notch website to their readers. This is even more true with less than daily circulation and weekly newspapers. Look at this as a HUGE opportunity to provide something many in your community are thirsting for. We are seeing more residents than ever before within the local communities supporting these local efforts. They realize the importance of the media in these challenging, and sometimes scary times.
• We need positive news and information. It is so easy to get caught-up in the endless cycle of negative news that is blasted across our airwaves 24/7. Studies show if you surround yourself with negative news, it has a depressing impact on the brain, and thus your overall outlook. There is so much positive news within the boundaries of our community; we need to assure the community is aware of this information. While the local media company can certainly provide the information regarding outstanding aspects of the community, each community member can do their part as well. Share those local media stories on social media. Provide the media company with tips leading to positive information. We can all share in a great news effort, let’s go.
• Be a leader now! As I mentioned at the beginning of this column, every community needs leadership. Not all leadership is the same. Leadership can be in your home, in your place of business, in your neighborhood, in your civic organization and of course in your community. Great leaders are constantly coming up with new ideas and innovations. Leaders are those exuding trust from those they come into contact with. Leadership can come from the media company working with businesses and communities during hard times to assist them in their critical leadership roles. Leadership isn’t waiting for others to ask you what to do; it can be reaching out to others and asking how you can help or offer suggestions about how others can serve their community better. Now is the time leaders must reach out, step-up and be counted.
As I read back through this column, a thought came to my mind. The things written here are not things that are profound, they are simply what we as a business, community, media-company and residents should have been doing all along. Oftentimes it takes times of uncertainty and change to make us realize what our mission should be. Our communities are full of great businesses, media companies, leaders and people; now is the time for each of us to reach out and fulfill what we are capable of doing. Anything short of that leaves a void within our communities, maybe a void that no one else can fill.
John A. Newby is the author of the "Building Main Street, Not Wall Street" weekly column dedicated to helping local communities keep their consumer dollars local. He can be reached by email at: john@360MediaAlliance.net.