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LETS GET DOWN TO BUSINESS.

Question :
Hi there. Firstly, thanks for existing! It’s an incredible forum. My business (sole trader) is pretty new. I’ve carved a great niche as a public relations consultant mainly working within the food and wine industry – also a couple of corporate and fashion clients. My business success has relied heavily on the really strong relationships I have with writers, editors and features editors, mainly in the glossy magazine sector. Of course, most of these people have lost their jobs and the magazines have gone. My challenge is finding new places to tell product stories. Wineries want their wine bottle seen. Artisan flaxseed cracker bakers want their crackers in Kia Ora magazine. Well, they did.What I’ve done so far: rejigged my offering to concentrate more on content writing, suggesting thought leadership pieces and blogs to my clients, firmed up some of the relationships I have with food influencers and business editors, connected with the magazines and newspaper insert magazines still producing their titles, convinced one big client to begin their own content channel which I’ll help populate and push to social to tell their stories digitally. Aside from the PR hustle, my best skill is writing. I’m an award winning writer, and a very skilled interviewer. I’ve briefly toyed with the idea of starting a content platform to fill the gap magazines have left behind. I know plenty of out of work writers who could help. However I guess I’m a bit scared at the enormity of that challenge and wondering if I have the mental energy to begin again, when finances are so scarce at our house (my husband has lost 100% of his income and unlikely to recover it). Looking for any guidance, thought, inspiration from you very clever folk.

Question submitted 19/04/20 @ 10:37am
Industry: Brand & Marketing
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  • Morena, really appreciated the detailed post -always so much easier to make useful suggestions with more context.

    Sounds as if you are in a tough situation. You want to continue to build your business in your niche. Good idea. Food and bev will recover and you want to be there when they do. But you also need income. Let’s work through some options that balance those two needs.

    First, food and bev hasn’t died, just moved. Get on the front foot and consider who is winning and how could you work with them. Fine dining doing takeaways. Can you help them with the content and digital? Can you create some clever PR. Who deserves to have the first dinner from the French Cafe delivered and how can you make that news? Great for the French Cafe and for you (as an example). New World stores are enhancing their offers in their local areas. Can you work with them on content. Does Foodstuffs or Countdown need more out sourced content writing to cope with current demand? Create a matrix of top 100 (nope I’m not kidding) prospects and what you will offer them and work the phones.

    Second, short term income that might take you away from your current business but leverage your skills. Government, health, essential services are all looking for support. Have you seen some of the emails from schools? Definitely a few would could benefit from some content support! Again, make another list of 100 organisations who are busier than ever. What can you offer them that would help? Be specific, be targeted, offer value and flexibility.

    In the short term you will need to pivot to being a sales expert – selling your skills as a solution to others challenges. And every time you reach out you will be one step closer to a positive outcome. Good luck!

    Thanks for writing in.

    You asked for inspiration and so just wanted to let you know that as I read your question the thought that kept going through my mind was ‘Wow you are well positioned for the move to online’. Just today Instagram/FB announced a broader platform for small business in the US/Canada. I know that’s not NZ but it means the conversion to online is here and its going to be for lots of businesses that have never had to do it. Helping businesses cut through the clutter and noise of an overcrowded digital marketplace is a great opportunity for you.

    One thing you could look in to is how to partner with social media agencies or augment print magazines (like local business magazines) that don’t either have capacity or don’t know how to take their print customers online. You could offer a service as a writer for social media or for the print magazine social media channel and branding service for their advertising customers. This may give you income while you pursue some of your other ideas.

    Hi, great advise above and i think John has nailed it. I have little to add but following John’s piece reach out to Indigo who are the development partner in Manaaki. They are knew to the market as well but from a tech perspective and they could possibly use your skill set.
    Best of luck-James

    The good news is that we’re relatively immature in terms of great content for social and other channels. The better news is that you have a talent that is going to be in great demand if it’s packaged and positioned well.

    Contact me at russ@dandco.nz as I’m currently working with some publishing fall out businesses on new opportunities which we’re hoping to support.

    Kia ora agree with all the above, particularly @vicky-taylor points around immediate income. with significant writing and interviewing skills you are really well placed to be a resource for businesses who have an increased need for content that connects, so creating a target list and funnel will be key at this time. As well as actual brands you could also focus on reaching out to a few agencies (PR / comms / media / social media) that might be looking for additional resources on a casual or contract basis if they have they have a client base that is thriving in this envirnment…. perhaps a focus on those who have FMCG / government etc clients.

    Please feel free to get in touch if you would like some suggestions

    Ahi ahi marie – I am just so energised by reading your question. Such talent and so much potential. It feels like Covid 19 disruption is going to open many doors for you. I completely agree with the advice above on how to switch modes & markets to keep the income coming in. What I’d also be interested in you exploring is your own thought leadership. How can you capture your IP to help many others as a thought leader, not just as an outsourced contractor or consultant? As an award winning writer with interview skills, you’ve got prowess that could be leveraged to help the many many businesses, brands, people navigate the storytelling road. What models, frameworks, tools do you use yourself in content generation that others may benefit from? How might you monetise this? In training, workshops, webinars, a book? I’m thinking about the Amazon marketing comms template that recently did the rounds. Content marketing was a $118B industry in 2015, it’s forecast to be $412B in 2021. Content consumption is up 60% at the beginning of Covid 19. This is your time.
    Go well
    Melissa

    Another final thought – think about how you can help people as individuals tell their personal stories better. Many many people will be in flux job-wise and quickly scrubbing up their CVs and thinking about transferable skills. How can you help them tell good stories to better re-gain new employment? This could be one to one or group coaching. You could interview them to unlock their secret sauce and them help them message that out verbally, visually, written etc. If targetted at the high end exec market, I’d imagine this to be quite a lucrative revenue stream for you

    Hi,
    I feel your fear, enormity of the challenge, mental energy. There will be good and bad days. Write the journal, it might be more your busy mind making you feel this way (not helped when both partners in similar positions!).
    If I’m reading between the lines – you’re hustling and I think you have the contacts. Its just the energy to keep hustling, distracting from the real paid work and not your natural comfort? Is there a person within the fall out of media sales that you could team up with, not employed by you, but perhaps there is a cut somehow?
    Would I be right in thinking, the solution you are really looking for exists is the longterm sustainable idea (there’s only so many hours you can charge yourself out for!). I’m with you not this. Maybe it will bubble to the surface over time if you can create some structure for your goals, needs and the new order that is arriving. I’d love to chat when you can free your time from the hustle, as keep thinking the same thing (there are a few short term also I can add – but lets talk). The changes happening in this category will evolve into something else. Food and wine are in the hearts and minds of people (although there will be fall out, and you need paying customers!) 021654926

    This is a time to think about your T- shaped career or portfolio career as a freelancer or sole trader. If you shift your focus away from job security to income security you’ll start to realise that your skill set(s) can be used in other ways. E.g. there is a huge amount of contracting work in PR, marketing and comms. Comms have become a very big part of our lives these days and this is hopefully a temporary situation for many orgs before trading starts again. So think laterally and look at advice via industry orgs such as IABC and MA

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