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06.05.20 – Darrell Priestley
Looking at their websites or advertising, it’s interesting how very differently various business are treating the coronavirus. Some businesses, large and small, see it as a selling opportunity, and for a few it has been a bonanza. While understandable though, this approach looks cynical, and those who are seen to have exploited it for gain will no doubt long be remembered as such. Others have eschewed this approach entirely, focusing instead on being as supportive as possible. Then there is reassurance; Sainsbury’s, for instance, has run an advert covering the protective measures they have taken for shoppers, including rules for social distancing.
However, the approach of some businesses, which I confess leaves me mystified, is apparently to ignore the Coronavirus crisis completely. A website can and should be much more than a shop window. It’s a chance for you, the audience, to learn who you are dealing with. You have a right to know that. Here we are then, facing the biggest challenge that most people alive today have ever had to deal with, one that is changing every part of all our lives, and to look at some business websites it might as well not be happening. Surely the public deserve more than that? You almost have to wonder, are they serious?
The approach we took at the Northern Music Academy was that we should offer a voice of support in troubled times. Our relationships with all our students and their families are very much affected by this crisis. The conversations that happen each week when people visit the Academy go much wider than the music lesson. They involve parents and family members, and take place not only with the student’s teacher but with others working at the academy too. Very quickly, relationships blossom into friendships, and you look out for your friends. We know that, even as many students continue their lessons with their teacher online, others may feel they are in no position to do so at this time, and in any event the usual contact is not there. But such contact is important, forming the fabric of our day to day, and helping us get through the week. For instance, many people who are not taking lessons themselves but bringing other family members tell us how much they enjoy visiting every week, which of course makes us very happy, but necessarily all such activity has been suspended.
Our response has been to provide this regular blog, to stay in touch, and we fill it with thoughts on many things, from the insightful to the inane. You may read it for Jessica’s practical insights to home schooling, for Eileen’s lovely recipes, or for my musings on everything from music to life in general, but I’m not sure it matters, becuase it’s contact. It simply means, we have a relationship, where we value one another, and that we are still here for you.
I often fondly remark to my lovely wife Eileen that I feel like everyone’s daddy. I can say this now and mean it because at this point I have been around for quite a long time, and over time many of our wonderful students come to feel like family. Please excuse me for feeling paternal, but I believe that people matter, and though we teach music, it’s probably equally true to think of ourselves as being in the people business. As we see it, people are the most important part of any business; and if you are not meeting the needs of people other than yourself, then why be in business?