We won the grant.
Citizens Bank has received a generous $15,000 grant from Citizens Bank in recognition of our work on the Coronavirus Communication (CoCo) campaign [see the press release here].
Once again: your voice is stronger than you think. In just a month, our hashtags like #HealthcareHeroes and #NewNormal have reached over 175 million people. Here are the latest numbers:
This grant will help us spread the word even further, even faster. Our goal is to help these ideas “go viral” even faster than the virus itself. If COVID-19 is the virus, good information is the antivirus.
How to Apply for Money in COVID-19
Here are a few things we learned from our experience:
1) Act quickly. As soon as we learned about the Citizens Bank grant program, we jumped on it. We were one of the first companies to apply (it helped that Citizens limited their grant application to just 150 words — a fast and easy grant application is greatly appreciated during this busy time).
2) Tell a story. We told the CoCo story: how good communication is a way that our media company has contributed to the Coronavirus cause, and how our team is working overtime on nights and weekends to get it done.
3) Align incentives. Citizens wants to help small businesses, and so do we. Citizens wants to help local communities, and so do we. Citizens wants to do something positive during the CoronaCrisis, and so do we. Focus on where you agree, not where you differ.
Move fast, tell a story, and quickly find areas of agreement: that’s the way to get things done in the age of Coronavirus.
We’re staying lean.
Now more than ever, we follow the principles of Lean Business:
– Develop rapid prototypes
– Get them live
– Measure results
– Then either improve them (if they’re working) or shut them down (if they’re not).
When we started CoCo, for example, it was just an idea. “Let’s try this out.” We hacked it together in a weekend, using open-source tools like GitHub and GitBook. The graphics were simple emojis. We gave the project two weeks to get some traction; if it wasn’t working, we’d shut it down.
But we worked really hard in those two weeks. We invited smart people to check it out; they told us it wasn’t very good. So we refined and improved. We had people like Steve Vilkas, Ridha Mirza, and Mike Wise step up to the plate with volunteer videos, and our great social media director Cliff Robinson overseeing the effort.
As we improved the site, day after day, we also began measuring results. And the more people who saw the message, the more people who wanted to help out. We got Max Allen, Bob LeMent, Meyyappan Lakshmanan, and Wes Barlow to shoot videos. Recently we had seven-time New York Times bestselling author Dr. Joel Fuhrman shoot his own CoCo video. Success leads to more success.
It seems like it happened really fast, but when you’re in it, day after day, it seems like a slog. (One of our colleagues recently said, “I feel like I’m working twice as hard for half the money.”) Stick with it! Persist! This is the most important message for communicators: your message is making a difference.
Stick with it. Measure. Improve. Take feedback, and don’t get defensive. Keep the faith. Keep going. Rinse. Repeat.
If we all start following the Lean Business model, communicating well together about Coronavirus, imagine how we can make a difference.
This may be the best $15,000 that Citizens Bank has ever spent.
5 Business Best Practices During the Coronacrisis:
> Focus on the Lean Business model. Don’t overthink, just get it done.
> Listen to critical feedback, and try not to get defensive. (They’re probably right.)
> When financial opportunities arise during CoronaCrisis, don’t wait. Drop everything and apply.
> Have a good story to tell about the work you’re doing during this time.
> Spend 10% of your time helping others.