Business: Harwich Chamber Workshop Will Help 'Kick Start' Businesses
By: Debra Lawless
Imagine this: You’re running a small business or non-profit and someone posts a devastating review online.
What do you do? Your instinct might be to defend your business in front of the world, thus providing entertainment for anyone who reads that platform. Or do you keep quiet? Or is there a third way?
As well as dealing with online complaints, you may find that branding your group and keeping up with today’s social media is challenging.
Dealing with these and other issues in today’s business world — online and off — is the topic of a three-session educational workshop called Kick Start Your Business that begins March 24.
Chikmedia of Holyoke is offering the workshop in partnership with the Harwich Chamber of Commerce with sponsorship from the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod.
“We are in an age where digital proficiency matters and this educational series will ensure people are there,” says Meghan Rothschild, the presenter for all three sessions. Eight years ago, Rothschild launched Chikmedia, a marketing and public relations agency working to create and improve marketing campaigns, target messaging and media relations so that they reflect individual business personalities. The group works through traditional marketing strategies, new wave digital trends and proven public relations methods. In particular, Chikmedia has helped women in business find their voices. Rothschild, who holds a master’s degree in corporate communications, has over 13 years of experience in marketing and public relations.
Session one is basically branding 101. “It’s meant to help small business owners or people looking to develop their own personal brands,” Rothschild says. This workshop covers your group’s mission statement and boilerplate — a single paragraph summing up the company. It helps determine what makes a business unique and answer questions such as: Do you have a logo? Have you chosen your company’s Pantone colors? (Pantone is a standardized color system used around the world.) Is your website cohesive with your social media and signage?
What is your voice?
Session two covers best practices in social media. Now that you have established your brand, you can start to spread the word. “You wouldn’t have a party if your house is a mess,” Rothschild says. So if branding equals cleaning house, now you’re ready to get the message out — host that party.
Rothschild will speak to all platforms. She says that on Cape Cod in particular Instagram is well received, as is Facebook. Facebook in particular offers “lots of tools people need for business.” She adds that Facebook is also used by both her mother and her nieces — it spans the generations.
Session three covers those crisis communications — “having a plan for when something inevitably goes wrong,” she says. “Not if, when.” This represents a way to have a two-way conversation through social media.
So what could this crisis be? Rothschild lists several scenarios: Your executive director has been accused of immoral behavior; someone brought a gun to work; an earthquake decimated your business. Dealing with all of these scenarios requires extensive training in communications, she says.
And what about that excoriating Yelp review of a local restaurant, hotel or business, the kind of review that tells a little story about the reviewer’s terrible experience at that business. How should a business owner deal with that tricky situation? Refute the points one-by-one? Lash out at the nasty customer?
Rothschild calls this a “mea culpa moment.” If the business is accused of something it didn’t do, the best policy is to set up a time with the unhappy customer for a discussion. While “we don’t want people to slander or libel the business, we need to give them a moment to vent,” she says. Fighting it out online suggests to other potential customers that this is the way the business deals with complaints — and that’s not good. The key is to develop a plan that will protect your brand and keep your company’s reputation intact.
Rothschild conducted a similar workshop on personal branding for the Cape Cod Young Professionals prior to the pandemic. This workshop is for businesses and non-profits and also great for entrepreneurs. The messaging is applicable to a larger audience.
“Especially after COVID we’re all thinking of different ways to help our members,” says Cyndi Williams, executive director of the Harwich Chamber. She adds that the collaboration will bring members benefits and other resources to kick start their businesses.
“She’s got a dynamic way about her,” Williams says about Rothschild. “A unique take.” She adds that Rothschild takes social media expertise “to that next step.”
The Harwich Chamber offers opportunities to the local community to network with other business owners in town, participate at town events, and participate in business training. It offers a way to spread the word about local business services, news, and upcoming events.
The three-part workshop will be held on Thursday, March 24; Wednesday, April 27; and Thursday, May 26 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the 400 East Restaurant and Bar function room, 1421 Orleans-Harwich Rd. The cost of the three sessions is $125 for chamber members and $175 for non-members. To register, visit the Harwich Chamber website at harwichcc.com.