By Joe Rubin
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has granted millions of small businesses loans in the billions. Most recipients received relatively small loans (average size of $ 80,000 for the second tranche of loans), but there are a significant number of recipients who received $ 1 million or more, and 40,000 companies received $ 2 million or more.
While the program clearly allows companies with up to 500 employees to borrow up to $ 10 million, Congress and administration are rethinking this and promise to review and audit those companies that have more than $ 2 million -Dollars received in PPP loans. In addition to this review, however, the press is actively pursuing companies that have received loans of $ 1 million or more by frequently "naming and shaming" them and pressuring them to return their PPP funds.
Unfortunately, the challenges of answering press inquiries often go "sideways" for many companies that have no reporter experience, with business leaders trying to defend the reasons why they need this money. As a result, many companies have agreed to return their PPP money, even if it is good for the company and its employees.
While business leaders generally have the time and resources to prepare for government scrutiny, dealing with the press poses a number of new and important challenges, including: B. dealing with hostile questions and an unknown audience and the need to respond in real time.
These questions are generally not based on legal requirements, but often on the perception of a reporter of "fairness" towards other recipients, a legitimate "need" and simply the amount of the loan. In addition, these new and novel questions and pressures occur in real time and do not give managers time to prepare in advance for the best response and answer options.
As a result, companies are often forced to answer public questions and reporters without support or training to answer these questions. It is therefore not surprising that many of these companies simply give up and agree to return the PPP money, although this could be an important support for their business.
In other words, company executives who accept larger PPP loans need to think carefully about how to respond to public inquiries about the loans and why they are important to their businesses, employees, and customers.
There are several “Road Rules” that business leaders should keep in mind when responding to reporters:
The aim of the PPP is to ensure that employers can afford to keep and reinstate workers who may have been dismissed due to a drop in sales, closed deals, or other adversity caused by the corona virus. Therefore, when a business leader is asked by a reporter about the need for PPP funds, they should continually return to the benefits that PPP money offers their employees:
"We took PPP money because our employees are very important to us and we wanted to make sure that we had the ability and the resources to continue to issue a paycheck on a regular basis in these challenging times."
It is particularly helpful if an employer can specifically point out the number of dismissed employees, but the company was able to recruit due to the PPP funding.