This is part of a series of articles showcasing publisher responses to the COVID-19 crisis. If you’d like to share what your publishing business is doing to serve audiences and maintain business, please reply to our callout for industry input.
While many professionals are gradually observing the impact of COVID-19 on their industries, others felt it the moment their businesses shut doors to the public. The latter is true for salon owners, hairstylists, and other professionals who engage with Bobit Business Media’s Beauty, Health & Wellness division brands.
“Our audience members are key in the small- and mid-size business genre, so they’ve been affected just as much as restaurants and other service providers out there,” says Brian O’Rourke, president of the Beauty, Health & Wellness division at Bobit. “We knew that it was important that we got out as much information as we could to serve them.”
The media brands in O’Rourke’s division include MODERN Salon, Salon Today, and NAILS. MODERN Salon provides training for hairstylists, while Salon Today serves business and technology best practices to salon owners and managers. Digital-only brand NAILS is dedicated to nail technicians.
Each of these brand teams worked swiftly to compile resources, organize webinars, and produce content addressing their audiences’ emerging challenges. O’Rourke stresses that none of these initiatives are for the sake of lead or revenue generation, though Bobit’s webinar portals do innately rely on registration.
“Because my editorial team is so close to the industry and because this industry is so familial and communal, we have not charged for attendance to any of these webinars,” he says. “We just want to make sure that the information is out there to the industry to support them because it’s critical. If these people’s businesses don’t survive, we lose audience members.”
Here’s a closer look at what O’Rourke’s teams have been doing to support salon professionals through the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the Salon Today and MODERN Salon teams first recognized the impact COVID-19 closings would have on salon professionals, they reached out to industry connections – including associations and advertising partners – to rally expert panelists for quick-turnaround webinars. The virtual events set company-wide records for attendance, O’Rourke says. MODERN Salon’s webinar attracted more than 4,000 registrants, not including on-demand registrants after the March 20 live date.
“For Salon Today, we wanted to get information out to the salon owners and managers for what to do in terms of helping their stylists if they had to furlough them or lay them off,” O’Rourke says. “There’s devastating stories about people having to lay off their entire staffs just so they can apply for unemployment and can feed themselves and their families during this time.”
The MODERN Salon webinar directed stylists to similarly relevant information, but also focused on mental wellbeing and how stylists can use their downtime to sharpen their skillset while they’re unable to engage with clients.
Associations including the International Salon/Spa Business Network (ISBN) and Professional Beauty Association (PBA) chipped in as content partners, and Ulta Beauty was an underwriter for the MODERN Salon webinar.
“That was a nice boon, but we would’ve put on the webinar whether we had underwriting support or not,” O’Rourke says. “Same with the next series. Our content team is currently planning offshoot webinars, and if we get underwriting, so be it, but we’re going to put them out regardless.”
Critical Content and Resources
In addition to hosting webinars, Bobit’s salon media brands created COVID-19 resource centers on their websites, including governmental agency links and PDF documents. The teams are currently working to make the content within those resource centers more interactive, as well as downloadable.
Leah Wynalek is editor-in-chief of BRAND United. She is passionate about creating content that engages audiences across channels – and delivering insights that help others do the same.