Updated: May 22
Cancel culture is a huge movement in the Age of Technology. With access to large amounts of information about celebrities and famous people and the ability to share that information instantaneously around the globe, movements to cancel everyone from entertainment moguls like Harvey Weinstein and R. Kelly to canceled comedians like Louis C.K. and Bill Cosby gather momentum and succeed.
From the Me Too movement to Black Lives Matter, there are all sorts of reasons a celebrity might be canceled these days. But, the latest movement in cancel culture is attacking the celebrities who are also business owners for not using their resources to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis.
If Pharrell and Bobby Flay are getting backlash for asking for help for their employees during this time, your business might too. How are you supposed to know if you can reach out to the public for support or if your efforts will be perceived wrongly by those with an "eat the rich" mentality?
Whether you're a family-run restaurant struggling to gather a virtual tip jar for your staff, or a large corporation trying to put benefits in place for your employees to work from home, finessing your communication strategy is key to spreading the right message during this pandemic.
Here are five rules everyone can follow:
1. Don't Make It About You
Although you may be suffering as a business owner, right now the cries of those who own anything are falling on deaf ears. The general public is rightly concerned about how they are going to keep a roof over their head and food on their plate.
While you may be concerned about the same things, if your situation doesn't look dire from the outside, it's difficult for people to relate. They don't know the difference between being asset-rich and having cash flow. They don't understand how this crisis is impacting you and many of them don't want to.
The best thing you can do at this time is to put the focus on your employees and the help they need to get by. Position yourself as a business owner who is trying to take care of their entire family - employee's included and you won't have to worry so much about the backlash.
2. If You Don't Need Help, Don't Ask for It
There are several business owners out there asking for the public to chip in and match their contribution to employee relief funds that they are creating. While this may seem like a nice idea on the surface, it really rubs people the wrong way.
If you have enough money to donate to a fund, you should just donate it. Don't put pressure on the average citizen to write a check to support your workforce. It's not their responsibility and they don't appreciate you passing along the pressure.
If you would like to donate a lump sum of cash to your employee relief fund and create a separate tip jar for the public to donate to your employees and then later combine those funds, that's a much better way to present your proposition to the public.
3. Send a Clear Message
The best thing you can do as a business owner is send a clear message to both your staff and community that you will be taking care of your employees and doing everything you can to assist them through this crisis. No matter what kind of fundraising you try to do to get through this time, make that the focus of your message.
4. Use Direct Means
Anytime you create a GoFundMe or a Facebook fundraiser, a portion of the donations are going to those corporations. And, if you're a business owner that started the fundraiser, that means you're asking someone to donate to for-profit systems.
Consider hosting your fundraiser on your own website and asking for direct donations. You could also think about additional services you could provide at this time to help your customers access your products safely.
5. Reassure Your Customer
Right now is a time to reach out to your potential customers and let them know what you're doing to be a responsible employer and business owner. Let them know the steps you are taking as a company to meet the needs of the community.