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March 26, 2020 | Tom Ballard

Boldsquare provides clients with strategic advice during the pandemic

Boldsquare is a strategic communications practice that provides executive leadership teams with communications counsel in high pressure situations. They help businesses navigate through growth, crisis and comprehensive change.

As noted in this article from a year ago, the Knoxville-headquartered firm was launched by Dylan Jones, Jeff Hooper, Mark Kroeger, Ron Fuchs, and Deb Mitchell. Ron Feinbaum joined just after the launch.

With a client base that goes beyond the U.S., we wondered how the COVID-19 pandemic was impacting Boldsquare’s work and what advice it might offer our readers. Fuchs, a fellow member of the Board of Trustees of the Pellissippi State Community College Foundation, provided this response for the team.

What sort of uptick in demand are you seeing?

“Boldsquare has been working with a wide variety of clients across multiple industry sectors (e.g. manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, entertainment, engineering, etc.) to help them navigate a path through fairly uncharted waters. Lots of the work has been internally focused as the pandemic has driven businesses to help employees learn and adjust to new ways of working, make operational changes and consider strategic shifts,” Fuchs said.

“We’ve also had clients looking for advice on how to position themselves externally, not just to manage through this immediate short-term shift but also to position themselves for growth in the post-recovery phase. Whether companies are having to make tough decisions now about employees and/or about rapid shifts in business models, or whether they are preparing for what they see coming, or are in an industry that’s actually getting a bump from the situation, they need to respond quickly,” Fuchs said.

“These are all unique opportunities for us to provide strategic communications and business counsel. It’s also important for organizations to realize that how they treat employees and communicate with customers during this time reflects their culture and their brand – and what people see and feel now will last longer than the pandemic,” Fuchs said.

How is your consulting being impacted by the need for social distancing? 

“Ours is a business that was always predicated on the idea of location being less important than experience, and as such we haven’t seen a huge client-side change in our work, although our creative work has shifted to a more virtual setting. We’re living on videoconferences, which we believe is a more robust communication channel than teleconferences. Our primary VC platform has been GoToMeeting, although we’ve used a variety of tools depending on what works best for the client,” Fuchs said.

What core advice would you offer any employer at this time?

“As in any crisis, be open and honest with your key stakeholders, whether that’s employees, clients, vendors or whoever. People understand this is a tough time, and they will work with you if they believe you are being straight with them. The challenges we face are finite, but I believe if we respect each other, embrace innovation and proceed with purpose, our ability to deal with them is infinite. We should strive to be optimistic and view this storm, like most challenges, as a season that we’ll get through!” Fuchs said,

“As Boldsquare’s Managing Partner Dylan Jones says, ‘We also recommend that clients try to separate short-term from long-term, where financially possible. The strategy that made sense for you before the pandemic will likely still make sense afterward. The organizations that do best in the post-pandemic period will be those that hold their nerve, plan for the uptick and take their shots.’ As we coach executives, we remind them that they need to connect, connect, and connect with their key stakeholders – from their leadership teams and employees to their customers, business partners and investors,” Fuchs said.

“A key piece of advice I give is to also encourage employers to be empathetic and compassionate. Recognize that this is an extremely stressful time for them and their families. Authentically admitting that you feel the same way is a powerful way to connect on a human level. Reach into all corners of your team and have a simple conversation to listen to how people are feeling and if they need anything. People need to hear our voices and vice versa,” Fuchs said.

“Finally, employers need to encourage their people to maintain a balance between home and work as we learn to work virtually. It’s easy to become absorbed, even obsessed with the rhythm of work. As I coached one executive last week: Encourage your people to practice self-care. Get some exercise. Take a walk or try yoga. Maintain the balance between home and work. Read a novel or listen to some music. Play a board game with your family. Do one of those 1000-piece puzzles that make me pull my hair out. As Marilyn Monroe once said, ‘A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it at night,’” Fuchs said.

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