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Growing an Established Business during a Major Pandemic

6 April 2021|Business Growth, Crisis Management, Latest Posts

Growing an Established Business during a Major Pandemic
Growing an Established Business during a Major Pandemic

Growing a business in normal times can be a challenge, but generally you can call on your own experiences, that of friends, trusted colleagues and mentors, or failing that, any one of a number of books from business gurus to help ensure you are successful.

Early last year, however, the handbook for growing a public relations business during a global pandemic had not been written. In fact, I’m still not sure whether one has really been penned yet.

The phrase “unprecedented times” was in vogue among journalists and politician, eventually becoming part of our daily lexicon…. but it was accurate.

On February 20, I commissioned a three-month lead generation campaign for EC-PR and a day later engaged a freelance marketing director. By March 16 we had 21 prospects in the pipeline and things were looking good. On March 23, a date I am sure will be etched in many PR professionals’ minds, the first lockdown kicked in. Our first new client signed, but by the end of the month we had no prospects in the pipeline.

Believe in your philosophy

At this point I fell back on three of my key philosophies to ensure that we not just survived, but thrived – method, tenacity and belief.

Despite seven tenders withering and dying on the vine in early April, I initiated a busy blog series, committing to one per week with infographics, to help ensure that we continued to build a strong brand awareness across our key customers and industries.

Having a strong web presence

That same week, a website review was commissioned, and all recommendations were accepted and by mid-month a content calendar was developed and activated. I am a great believer in having a strong web presence and making a significant investment in content marketing and an up-to-date content calendar. If you can’t market yourself successfully, how can your clients have confidence in you? 

Later in April, we launched a Crisis Communications Guide for clients and potential clients, and towards the end of the month, our weekly nurture email was activated.

New clients from referrals

In mid-June, we commissioned another three-month lead generation campaign and won our second new client, and first since March. With Covid restrictions starting to be eased around the country, the fine weather allowing for some positivity and companies being used to, and becoming adept at, embracing remote working we started to see shoots of new business optimism with July presenting us with a third new client via a referral.

Early in August, EC-PR launched its 8-Step Communications Strategy Guide, while picking up a fourth new client, again through a referral, and just a month later a fifth was signed. The momentum then accelerated. October 12 saw us launch our B2B PR Campaign Planning Guide and win a sixth new client, again via a referral. 

In November, we started work on a Brand Awareness Insight piece, while winning our seventh and eighth clients, again one of them through a referral and in December, new clients nine and 10, one of which was organic, signed up to us.

It’s both my belief and experience that referrals only really follow good client experience and with half of our growth coming from them it’s testament to our process and delivery. We are all about giving CMOs certainty of delivery, – controlling the things we can and manage the things we can’t with precision. I must give Kudos to Liz, my fellow director and her PR delivery team.

The importance of hard work, resilience and foresight

Our hard work, resilience and foresight throughout such challenging times I believe has put us in good stead for the next 12 months. Admittedly, seven of our tenders came to nothing in April, but we had to accept the impact of Covid and trust in our expertise and experience to not just weather the storm but come out of it stronger, more resilient and perhaps wiser.

5% year on year growth

As well as winning 10 accounts, an average of one a month, we are currently awaiting decisions on nine tenders. One of our clients has doubled their budget and two others have extended their remit into analyst relations with us which is very positive. 

We must acknowledge our clients. They are remarkable people doing great things and are showing both wisdom and bravery, investing in their businesses to fuel them through these difficult times. We find that we work with people who are on ambitious growth curves. They are often scale-ups who are financially astute and we are fiercely proud of them and truly admire them.

From a personal view, however, to top it all, I’m proud that despite what has been our toughest trading year ever, we have achieved a very credible year on year growth of 5 per cent.

Stick to your beliefs and do what you do best

My experience over the last 12 months in growing an established business during Covid has been challenging, but fruitful, although perhaps not something I would really want to repeat! At the same time, however, I appreciate that I’ve learnt things that will stand me in good stead going forward. It has also re-iterated some communications and public-relations beliefs that I have held for some time.

In Summary

· Have a very strong web presence which is up to date and relevant

· Build strong brand presence

· Make significant investments in content marketing and build accurate content calendars

· Generate new clients from referrals

· Believe in yourself and your company

· Ensure you are in you clients’ and potential clients’ minds with pertinent blogs, tweets, useful guides and thought pieces.

· Keep talking to your clients and prospects




About the Author

Lorraine Emmett
Lorraine Emmett

Direct, passionate and results oriented, Lorraine helps make b2b brands visible, valued and understood. She believes that effective communication should always provoke a response whether that is to think, to feel, to do or to engage in a certain way. 

In awe of what engineers, scientists and technologists are capable of and how inaccurately their contribution is celebrated in society, Lorraine’s client roster includes: Defence, Energy, Environment, Maritime, Science & Technology, Transport and Cyber Security.

Lorraine started her first B2B PR company in 1994 and in 2016 launched Emmett & Churchman – continuing to deliver globally at a strategic level.