Bring Something.

At a time of budget rollbacks and job insecurity in the ad business, many of us are legitimately hesitant to get back to work with our customers. We don’t want to appear insensitive or – even worse – opportunistic. Because we fear doing the wrong thing, we do the safe thing. Which is close to nothing.

Imagine that a person or family in your neighborhood is suffering under the weight of a tough situation: the loss of a job, an illness, a troubled family member. One in four of us will just hang back, ostensibly to give them space or respect their privacy: but really, it’s because doing or saying anything is just too uncomfortable. Another 70 percent will offer thoughts and prayers or encourage them to Let me know what I can do! While none of the respectfully silent or shallow well-wishers will have crossed any lines, neither have they done us any good.

The five percent we remember from rough times are those who showed up and brought something. They didn’t wait for the struggling party to define the need and ask for help. They were the five percent who said I’m doing this for you and then did it. They anticipated what could be helpful and then acted – not because there would be any payback, but because it was the right thing to do. They could have chosen to be polite: instead, they chose to be useful.

If you’re hanging back and saying nothing to your customers right now, you’ll be the one showing up in July asking So, how was the pandemic for you? Not cool. If you’re simply wishing them health and waiting for the money to start flowing again you’re also missing an opportunity to show them – and yourself – who you really are.

Bring something. Clients and agency execs still need our help. They too are trying to preserve and redirect budgets. They’re scrambling to tell new stories about adjusted service hours, customer safety and commitment to public good. They need our insights about consumer behavior and market conditions during the crisis that they can use for critical decision making as it lifts. On a personal level, how might that planner who is anxious about losing her job feel when she gets an already-drafted recommendation note from you – just in case she ends up needing it?

At some point in the foreseeable future we will look back and ask ourselves who we really were during this dark time. Most of us are not heroic medical people or courageous cashiers and clerks.

But we can all bring something.