I don’t regret launching an agency in the throes of COVID-19

Mario Falchoni doesn't know what the world will look like post COVID-19, but he does know this: He doesn't regret launching an agency in the middle of a global pandemic.

What will you tell your grandkids when they ask what you did on the cusp of the Great 2020 Depression? When businesses the length and breadth of the country were pulling down the shutters and waiting in the foetal position for the viral storm to pass? What will you say? For me, it will be this: I don’t regret starting an agency in the middle of a pandemic.

You see, we have only just completed a long process of planning, recruitment and provisioning to launch our new firm, Retorix. Late last year, prudently we thought at the time, we had set ourselves a launch date for late March 2020. Then the world turned to custard.

Retorix went ahead and launched anyway

Like everyone else, we watched the events of March unfold with growing unease. Crashing stock markets, exhaustion of monetary policy, ever-tightening social restrictions, rogue cruise liners, and rising global mortality.

By mid-March, the baby elephant in the corner had taken up residence on the coffee table in the middle of the lounge room. And he had grown fat and surly. We could no longer avoid the obvious question: Who in their right mind would launch a new venture into the worst global economic calamity since the 1930s?

The upshot of our deliberations? Ships are built to cross the oceans, not to sit safely in harbours. In the same way, strategists, communicators and brand builders thrive in a crisis.

Our mission is ‘to help clients to build commercially sustainable businesses and articulate an authentic and compelling story’. What better time for this could there be than right now? Now is the time when the art and science of our craft is most needed by Australian companies and the community. Now is when we can add the most value. Now is the perfect time to launch.

So, girding our loins and bound by our logic, we launched Retorix as part of the Designate Group. It was also born into a recession.

The present crisis is as severe as we are ever likely to experience. It will break some companies and make others. Short-term survival and long-term brand reputation hang in the balance. Coming out the other side intact and equipped to trade into the recovery will require a thoughtful, data-driven strategy as well as cool-headed tactical execution. It also requires a solid moral compass. Values are more important than ever.

In this highly charged environment, businesses need trusted advisors to design their strategy and navigate skilfully through uncharted waters. Authentic and timely communication has never been more critical.

Every crisis creates opportunity. Just remember, the way we choose to engage today – with customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, and regulators – will be remembered for a very long time.

Mario Falchoni is the managing director of Retorix


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