Sunday, July 19, 2009

Three things I've learned from the recession (so far)

I am just plain tired of the recession. (I know, who isn't?)

But I'm not simply talking about the state of the economy. I'm sick of the negative attitudes and the fact that good news has come to mean news that's not as horrible as anticipated.

Now, I don't say we should run headlong into the lend-to-spend world that got us into this mess. But do I feel it's time for us to instill a renewed confidence in ourselves, our businesses and the economy.

I'm going to start by listing three things I've learned from this adventure and how they changed my view of the world:

  1. You get very different advice in good times and bad. Basically you go from from spend, spend, spend to cut, cut, cut. Pendulum thinking, really. Personally, I think we should fall somewhere in between and adopt a philosophy of 'risk and sensibility'.
  2. There are no guarantees. Contracts may disappear. Clients may cut back at a moment's notice. Someone who calls you in for a new business opportunity one day could be laid off before the meeting ever occurs (this actually happened). What that means for business and individuals is that we need to honestly assess every situation and be prepared to turn on a dime. If you're an entrepreneur, it's a bit like being in perennial start-up mode, familiar, fun, yet occasionally a bit exhausting.
  3. Don't wear rose coloured glasses, but don't lose hope either. This isn't easy when you're exposed to dire news at every turn. But that's a time to step back and put things in perspective; be thankful for what you do have and appreciate the truly important things in your life. And try to be cautiously optimistic amid the turmoil. At the risk of sounding schmaltzy, I'd like to invoke Jerry Lewis and his telethon finale: 'When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high...'
Oh, and for PR people there's a fourth thing too. The recession has accelerated a change in the communications industry. And while no one knows exactly where we're heading, there's no denying we aren't going back. Social media is part of our landscape. And it's going to continue to grow in importance for our practice and profession. Whether we become leaders or followers is entirely up to us.

What have you learned?

2 comments:

Gini Dietrich said...

Martin - You beat me to the punch! I was going to blog about this very thing later this week. You're right on all accounts, but especially on the fact that the PR industry is changing and ALL of us need to jump on the bandwagon! It's crazy that most PR professionals still aren't testing the social network world. Even more crazy that most marketing departments are on to mobile applications and our industry still hasn't figured out digital.

Get on the bandwagon, people!

Louise Armstrong said...

In a recent Twitter post, Chris Brogan said something similar: in good times, clients buy strategy and it bad times they buy tactics.

Point # 2 - there are no guarantees - is felt more by entrepreneurs but should be the mantra of any working person today. Do you hear that striking City of Toronto workers?