It was the night before lockdown and 3 Monkeys Zeno were holding a ‘Boardroom in a Bar’ event for clients and agency friends. The point being, since we can’t meet up in real life we should do the next best thing and combine two things we knew would go together well: wine, cheese and some good old-fashioned peer to peer discussion, in the comfort of our own homes. We got together, last night, with a clutch of like-minded comms professionals and logged on. As award-winning sommelier Matt Day took us through 4 delicious French wines and cheeses from La Fromagerie, we strapped ourselves in for the thorniest of discussions about the pandemic, purpose and PR. As all good conversations go, we covered a range of subject matter, broadly along the topics lines below.
- How companies and communications teams under pressure from all angles are adapting; what are the wins and fails in the pandemic
- How ESG and purpose are the new cornerstones of reputation management
- The challenges and opportunities in driving sustainability stories during Covid
- How to make earned media work harder as coverage becomes more challenging to secure
The key out-take of the discussion can be summarised in three words: it’s about agility, agility, agility. It was the watch-word of the session. However, these 6 threads were prominent and stood out the clearest.
- Previous economic shocks have tended to result in more focus on long term value generation, more transparency, and companies “doing good”. The pandemic however has forced companies to reassess long term risks – to look at their business vulnerabilities ( accounting practices, environmental footprint, corporate supply chains; and social inclusion) - and address them and, communicate on them, quickly
- It’s also driven seismic change. Business models have had to adapt, be nimble and in difficult circumstances where different countries are abiding by different rules. And businesses will further evolve as new needs are uncovered as we continue to deal with the phases of the new normal
- Employees are now valued, more often, as assets. Employee wellness has rocketed up the rankings, and as purpose clearly starts from within, taking care of employees is the most significant way to demonstrate purpose in action and businesses have acted on this
- Small changes can make a big difference. Businesses have shown that where there is a will, there is a way. A sense of hope and solidarity that you are doing the right thing and communicating it sensitively
- It’s been challenging coming up with plans that align against all audiences against a ticking clock– meaning there’s an urgency to understand them better than ever before – a move from transacting to relating wins out now
- Sustainability and care have been more intertwined than ever before this year. People want to feel safe, brands have an obligation to protect. Our relationship with personal hygiene and personal space has changed. And these shifts have affected a brand’s communication strategy from the ground up.
So, how should brands behave and as comms people what can we do? We agreed it was about this:
Be recognised as part of the solution, not the problem
Be perceived to have purpose but in today’s context
Be viewed as adapting in today’s uncertain world. Collective action is needed to address any global crisis and we all agreed that starts with empathetic leadership from us all.
If you’d like to come along to our next Boardroom in a Bar please do drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org