When I started my business in 2010, the United States was in the middle of the “Great Recession,” the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. According to Department of Labor statistics, about 9 million jobs were lost in the two years before I founded The Mathews Group (now Spring Green Communications). Unemployment hit a high of more than 14% for 18-24-year-olds in 2010.
With so many potential clients downsizing, it was a scary time to start a new business. But to me, it actually made a lot of sense. I knew that my future clients were slashing internal costs. But I also knew that they were still going to need to get the work done.
Today, U.S. companies are facing similar economic woes as they struggle to reduce costs while staying relevant in an uncertain marketplace. Everywhere you look, companies are downsizing, rightsizing or just plain shrinking.
So am I worried?
Not really. Our company, Spring Green Communications, has proven itself to be an effective partner in good times and bad. Our clients depend on us to be a cost-effective solution to their comms problems. We do it all: develop long-term strategies, create corporate reports, plan for crises, write speeches and analyze results. I believe that more companies are going to see the wisdom of seeking out counsel from strategic partnerships with agencies like ours as they try to do too much with too few people.
In economic downturns, it’s especially important to invest in your communications outreach, because your customers are also facing hard times, and as they build next year’s budget, they’ll be looking closely at whether they really need your product. You need to stay top of mind, and you cannot afford any communication missteps.
Some key indicators that it’s time to hire an outside agency:
You need help updating (or creating) your crisis communications plan. This plan cannot be put on the back burner while you wait for a hiring surge — we help our clients plan for the worst-case scenarios that they hope never to face.
Your employees lack the time or experience to create the ESG, DEI and other reports that your investors want to see. These reports take time and focus — that’s where an agency like ours can step in. We gather the information, write the stories and design the report in your company style.
You don’t have enough people to give you “fresh eyes” on new initiatives. Sometimes you need a new perspective — one that your overworked employees don’t have the time to give.
You’re turning down valuable speaking engagements because you just don’t have time. You need to put yourself out there — we draft speeches and develop presentation decks for our clients so they can speak confidently at both external and internal events.
More than a decade after I opened my (virtual) door and went looking for clients, my one-woman eponymous comms shop has grown exponentially. Co-owner Tia Over and I now lead a team of comms professionals spanning four time zones. And together, we’re helping our clients not just to survive, but to thrive in this tumultuous market.
by Melissa Mathews