These are unprecedented times for the world, and how businesses react and support the countries and communities in which they operate, speaks volumes about the fibre of their brand.
We are living through truly unprecedented times. As we watch the world dealing with a health crisis, the scale of which we have never experienced in our generation, it almost seems an age ago when we were travelling to our jobs without concern, spending time with extended family and friends, or nipping out for a coffee or to the pub without it seeming like a big deal. Now, the world has changed, at least for a few weeks, or months… in fact the toughest thing is that nobody knows.
COVID-19 is a global tragedy unfolding before our eyes. Many are suffering not only from the disease itself by from the knock on effects resulting in stress and anxiety; Through the uncertainty of livelihoods, businesses and what the ramifications will be once lockdown conditions are relaxed.
In times of crisis, in whatever level of community we are part of, I have always been fascinated by the response of people and businesses – both good and bad. Firstly, the bad, and some astonishing levels of corporate ignorance filling the news these past few weeks:
- Sports Direct staking a claim that their offering should be considered ‘essential’. Later issuing an apology as their team attempted to clean up a PR disaster.
- Wetherspoons chairman Tim Martin produced a cringe-worthy video which found its way onto social media. Thanking his staff for their hard work whilst also refusing to pay, advising them to ‘find jobs elsewhere’.
- Hotel chain Brittania essentially fired and evicted members of their catering team. Whom also stayed in accommodation at the hotels they worked in. Cue yet another hastily prepared response associating this action as an ‘administrative error’.
What angers me and previously loyal customers of such brands is that as successful businesses, they are better placed to support in times of crisis. Yet they choose not to and even worse, some opting to profit from it.
There’s a lot of good in the world
But what about the good? There are countless examples of companies stepping up and supporting the community. Either through leveraging their existing services, or by pivoting their expertise and capabilities to deliver in their country’s time of need;
- One of our partners; Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, is part of the effort across a number of F1 teams and other companies, to ramp up the production of ventilators for the NHS. With cutting edge capabilities including rapid prototyping, precision engineering and production facilities, this is an example of businesses pivoting outside of their core product, but leveraging capabilities for the community: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/51963897
- Bauer the North American ice hockey equipment brand. As sporting leagues around the world are put on hold, they have scaled back their production of equipment. Renowned for making the protective equipment that needs to stand up to a game of hockey. Bauer have changed their production facilities to produce face shields for medical professionals currently battling the COVID-19 crisis: https://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/28952782/bauer-switches-making-hockey-equipment-medical-gear
- Back here in the UK, SME payment service provider PaymentSense has launched a service to support the restaurant industry. In switching up their businesses to offer takeaway services with a scheme called ‘BiteBack’. Again, showing very clearly how businesses can be truly useful to their customers and community in challenging times: https://www.paymentsense.com/uk/biteback/
- Craft-beer favourite Brewdog; have been hit heavily by the closure of bars, pubs and other outlets, but have adapted their production lines to produce hand sanitiser. A scarce product in these times and one in much demand amongst hospitals and other front line services https://www.brewdog.com/uk/hand-sanitiser.
So what are we doing here at IRIS? We know we should be grateful for where we find ourselves at this moment in our journey. Just this week we announced the completion of our latest funding round. Through the support of our investors and partners we are able to move rapidly to alter our plans and continue our growth through turbulent times. But we also know that many people in our community are struggling, so we wanted to give back.
What is IRIS doing in supporting the community?
- We have commenced a series of useful tips and recommendations to maintain a healthy body and mind. With our first article on tips for meditation launched last week;
- Launching weekly wellness and meditation content via our channels.
- We are lifting the track limit on our iOS app, so users can #ListenWell to more of their music.
- We are fast tracking the launch of our Android app.
New support to the creative community
We wanted to go further. So, today we are launching a scheme to support our creative community who we know have been hit heavily by their clients being forced to reduce costs.
For at least the next 8 weeks we will be sharing a new creative brief each week. This will be opened up to any content creator, copywriter or artist who wishes to pitch us an idea. We will then fund the ones we would like to be created; and these concepts will form part of our marketing campaigns in the coming weeks and months, as we take a message of wellness and live music to the world.
We want to enable people everywhere to #ListenWell. Mindful of the relevance of both the ‘live’ music aspect and wellness benefits of the IRIS technology at this moment in time.
More information on this activity and instructions on how to get involved will be shared on our social channels. Please follow us and share with anyone you feel would be interested in getting involved and needs some work.