New York, NY (September 29, 2020) – Six months into an unprecedented and continuing global pandemic, COVID-19 has had a broader and longer-lasting impact than anyone expected – and Essence Communications, Inc. (“ECI”) has not been immune to it.
Nonetheless, our commitment to successfully guiding this iconic brand through these immediate challenges and forward is unwavering. Our team and the community we serve are too important. The culture we reflect and create is too important. The platforms we’ve built for the celebration, inspiration and empowerment of Black women and communities are too important.
This is why we are making the business decisions we are making today. Prior to COVID-19, because of the investments we have made over the past two years, we have been able to preserve and even grow ESSENCE magazine, the ESSENCE Festival of Culture and our digital platforms – even as many Black-owned media were unable to do the same. While COVID-19 changed the trajectory of that growth, we are planning to get back on track quickly, and we remain committed to making the investments necessary to drive deeper and greater cultural impact via our magazine, digital, and virtual experiences, as we also stand at the ready for the much-anticipated return of live experiences.
We do so in an environment in which this global pandemic has caused businesses across the nation to face substantial challenges, from unexpected slowdowns to closures. It goes without saying that the health crisis halted large-scale live events and having to cancel the ESSENCE Festival of Culture experience in New Orleans this past July affected our business and our revenue.
Our commitment to the business remains the same, and we want to be clear that ESSENCE magazine (digital and print) and ESSENCE Festival of Culture are not going anywhere.
After a thorough analysis of our business and its financial position and carefully exploring all options for continued viability, we have made the very difficult decision to implement temporary measures to account for the ongoing significant negative impact of the pandemic, including furloughs.
While the business was able to prevent taking such measures during the initial onset of the pandemic via significant personal investments from ownership along with limited PPP funds, the prolonged situation and unforeseeable business now require us to take additional action to ensure the long-term sustainability of ECI.
The company informed impacted team members today, and while no furloughed employee will perform any work on behalf of ECI during this period, we will pay everyone impacted throughout this week and will cover their medical benefits premiums throughout the furlough. We will remain in touch with all of those impacted to provide relevant and pertinent updates regarding this matter as we have them. We do not anticipate that any furloughs will exceed six (6) months.
We are confident that the actions we are taking now will help ensure that ESSENCE is here to thrive for another 50+ years as an independent Black-owned media business
Thank you for your continued partnership, confidence and support. Onward together.