How To Survive COVID-19 & Other Crises For SMEs


Brand Inc. faced the first global economic challenge shortly after the Group was founded. The collapse of Lehman Brothers devastated financial markets. And the subprime mortgage crisis was then termed as the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. 

Come 2020, the world faces yet another global crisis – the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. This time, the impact is stronger and on a much larger scale. It is estimated that the loss in global business travel revenue alone is USD 810.7 billion. In Singapore, more than 100,000 are expected to lose their jobs, and in April alone, 3,800 business shuttered.

Like most businesses across the global, Brand Inc.’s business has taken a beating. This does not come as a surprise as the company’s portfolio mainly lies in lifestyle public relations (PR) – travel, retail, hospitality and medical. The worst hit across the company’s business units is hospitality and travel PR. Nevertheless, we remain afloat. And here’s how:

3 As to Staying Afloat During A Crisis

1. Advance ahead

It is common practice for PR and communications agencies, as a third party, to counsel based on brief and direction. However, in times of crisis, reevaluating value chain analysis, and finding competitive opportunities is one of the many ways stay head.

Companies must also stay nimble. Gone are the days where professionals remain true to only one core skill. For example, a photographer only takes photographs. Not only photographers required to make gorgeous visual narratives, they are expected to excel in digital imaging and some even dabble in social media marketing and video production.

We have also believed in and trained people with convergent skills. It is the quickest way to increase bench strength. Our management team also wears many hats and are keen to change and adapt. A nimble culture is the foundation to weathering economic storms.

2. Adopt Technologies

Brand Inc. is a trailblazer in the PR and communications industry in Singapore and Malaysia. The group is one of the first to specialise in lifestyle public relations. The launch of digital pr services in 2010 also puts the Group among the leading agencies to adopt data-driven strategies and social media marketing.

In the face of COVID-19, many companies are forced to change or adopt new ways to conduct businesses. With social distancing in place, online meeting has become a norm. Online transaction is also favoured over traditional brick and mortar business models. Adoption and reinvention are necessary in such uncertain times.

One example is the facebook group, Dram Full Singapore. The group took to Zoom to conduct whisky tastings and soirees during COVID-19 lockdown. “Commonly perceived as a traditional social affair, technologies have provided an avenue for people and brands to connect despite lockdown across borders. It has also provided sanity to many who have been cooped up at home,” said Matthew Fergusson-Stewart, a facebook community leader and co-founder of Dram Full groups.

3. Adapt to Best Practices

Look on the bright side, COVID-19 has also presented opportunities for companies to adapt to best practices. One that we adhere strongly to is, meet only when necessary. Meetings are often than not inefficient use of time. Unless absolutely necessary, meetings are kept in 30mins block . Good thing we can set meeting duration on Zoom.

Working from home is common for all during lockdown. The trick to effectively work from home is to create a space and sense of balance. For those with young children, set a space and a cue to signify work time. For instance, if the room door is closed, it is a sign that work is in progress. With less time wasted on commute, it could mean more quality time with the family.

What we appreciate most during this period is patience and tolerance. In fact, this is the best time to learn from past failures, evaluate current situation and inspire an effective and efficient reform in the office. This is the best time for reforms because we know we can’t get any worse for trying something new and different.