Editorial: Reassure customers in your reopening message

Editorial Board • Apr 24, 2020 at 5:00 PM

It’s time to get back to work.

Not unlike the rest of America, business owners across the Tri-Cities and the Appalachian Highlands clamor to swing open their doors and refuel the economy.

Six Rivers Media, LLC — parent company to the Kingsport Times News, Johnson City Press, Jonesborough Herald & Tribune, Erwin Record, Mountain City Tomahawk and NET360 — has been preparing for this reopening for weeks, asking, “How can we help local business owners jump-start their business? How can we help them gain — or regain — market share? How can we help them tell their story again?”

Now, as the days count down to reopening, business owners prepare their physical locations, ramp up supplies and make plans for staffing. Some business owners will struggle most with their marketing and getting word out that they are, indeed, again open for business.

That’s where your Six Rivers Media partner will be invaluable. Our talented representatives have been given multiple tools and the power to work with our clients to make their cash registers ring. While other media have rolled out single recovery programs, we have given our managers and staff the latitude to choose from multiple programs to figure out what works best for individual clients as they again begin to build cash flow.

Six Rivers began by launching the WHAT’S OPEN service on timesnews.net and johnsoncitypress.com. Any local business owner, regardless of whether they were an advertiser with a Six Rivers Media business unit or not, can advertise their status (open, by appointment only, etc.), as well as location, hours and what services they offer under physical distancing guidelines. That basic service remains free, thanks to our partnerships with the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce for timesnews.net and the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce for johnsoncitypress.com. WHAT’S OPEN also will remain on the websites — and free to any business — until the economy is fully open and normal business operations resume.

WHAT’S OPEN is a partnership with a trusted vendor who saw a need across the country as the COVID-19 pandemic strangled the economy. That need was a showcase of local, open businesses — a free showcase — on trusted media sites. With an average of more than 7.5 million pageviews and 700,000 unique visitors every month on our websites, we knew we could showcase businesses to a broad, diverse market. That we could partner with our chambers of commerce and offer WHAT’S OPEN as a community service meant many local businesses had a way to promote themselves that otherwise wasn’t widely available.

Now it’s time to take the first step in recovery. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee will let his safer-at-home order expire on April 30, allowing the business community to begin opening in a measured, thoughtful and safe way.

As a business owner, your reopening message should include a message of assurance that you are taking measures to protect shoppers or clients until COVID-19 is eradicated. Will tables in your restaurant be appropriately spaced? Will your employees wear masks? Are you open by appointment only? Will you limit the number of customers at a time in your store?

Those messages will be important. Shoppers and customers will want to know what protections you offer. By including that information in your reopening message, you remove all doubt that you remain aware of the current environment and are taking extra protective measures. Our representatives can help you craft that important, comforting message.

Our belief is simple: Communities thrive when business thrives. In these hopeful times, our communities will blossom again when the doors of commerce swing open to welcome consumers. We are honored every day to work with and support local business. We encourage you to offer that same support.

Let’s safely get back to work together.

Rick Thomason is publisher of the Kingsport Times News and Johnson City Press and president of Six Rivers Media, LLC.

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