In tough times, get tough

Just bumped into an old friend in the supermarket who runs an adhesives business - don't ask, I'm not sure what he does either.
He runs a great business which has been growing for as long as I have known him. He's one of the few people I know who is a genuine entrepreneur - all self taught and as boot-strapped as they come. However, in the current economic climate, he tells me that his company has gone to a four-day week.
I'm hearing this a lot of this now - in every industry. Earlier this year a very valued client phoned to tell me he was dispensing with the services of GREEN Communications even though he had been impressed with our results - he'd just made 20 people redundant ("We've never made people redundant," he told me), imposed a 10% pay cut across the business and elected to take no salary for the next 12 months.
Indeed, I was at the Open Coffee monthly meeting in Bradford organised by BMedia, where I am a board member, and all the attendees were talking  about tight budgets, extended payments terms (one guy was doing work on 120 day payment terms! Eek)
On the public relations front the news from the industry is pretty grim too, with significant rises in redundancies as clients claw back costs. This is sensible given that budgets are beginning to shrink but it also short-termist and ultimately damaging to the brands that are trying to position themselves for the upturn.
With the advent of social media, which is now largely the remit of the PR professional, cutting back on the communications budget should really not be an option given that most of your customers will be looking at you through the lense of the internet. If you not out there, you're nowhere.
And while I admit things are tough - we monitor our cashflow like hawks at the moment - business still needs to shout about what they are doing and consider the implications of what they are not doing, ie bad news and how they communicate that... a lot of our time is spent dealing with the crisis issues of staff redundancy on behalf of clients.
Curiously, our new business pipe line is very healthy and marketing directors and managers clearly realise they have to have a strategy but they are holding back. One new business contact has taken three months to set up a meeting.
Nevertheless, the more enterprenuerial businesses out there GET IT! And in the past week we have signed up two new clients - budgets are not big - but they clearly understand that PR is their only option at this point. Now we must deliver.

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