What we as PR agencies can learn from COVID-19

May 18, 2020By Jessica KelliherInsights

What strange times the last seven weeks have been for us PR folks. We’ve all likely experienced numerous interruptions on our video calls with colleagues and clients alike. I’m not going to lie, it’s been interesting, especially having a young family and continuous distractions like the busy Amazon mailman, landline ringing and a bored 4-year-old looking for constant attention.

Until now, working from home in the PR industry was fine, as long as your line management team knew what you were doing. But sadly, there was always a stigma attached to productivity and whether we had the tools to be effective in our work.

However, the current pandemic has shown us that WFH practices and the technology platforms we use day to day will change the way we work going forward. As we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, factors such as mental health, leadership and company culture will take a driving seat in the new norms of our working life.

Working From Home Can Be Isolating

With isolation for some being a primary factor in depression, anxiety, and other significant mental health issues—the need for physical and social distancing has only intensified this situation. Previously, mental health has always struggled to receive the necessary attention it deserves, but with a potential increase in mental health issues due to staff working from home, there is a greater appreciation for its importance and for the ways PR agencies can provide solutions, employment benefits and training to help employees.

The last seven weeks have highlighted that the need for leadership is more important than ever. In the toughest times, the PR leaders who excel are those who communicate clearly, stay calm and strong, demonstrate empathy, think long-term and take appropriate decisive action.

Company Culture is Paramount

Company culture will be more in the spotlight in the post-COVID era. Like leadership, company culture is paramount to an agency’s success. If culture is “the way we get it done”, it has become important in guiding actions and decisions of both the management team and its employees. It is likely agencies will increasingly acknowledge the importance of culture as context for performance and employee engagement—focusing on managing and creating a culture that supports and allows teams to be successful.

Hopefully, as the restrictions ease and teams slowly and safely return to the office in the next few months, PR agencies will look at COVID-19 work practices as a learning exercise for a better and more effective working environment for everyone.

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