Diary of a PR person working from home
So, the last six weeks have seemed strange. Like most other people we swapped our familiar work desks, our bright shiny new office in Fox Valley, for working from the comfort of our own home (wfh) in order to stay safe, protect lives and support our NHS.
The first week felt strange to say the least. We weren’t quite sure which projects were still happening for clients and which were on hold. Luckily, we have an incredibly supportive and loyal client base and we have been impressed with how businesses generally have avoided the knee-jerk reaction to cut all spending. Instead they have focused on specific projects and diversified their campaigns to keep some momentum in the market.
We soon started to adapt to the new way of working. Sticking to regular office hours was not going to be ideal for some of our team, especially with home schooling to fit in. For example, as a morning person, I have found it more productive to be at my desk at 7am and break off around 9am to set the kids their schoolwork – and make sure it gets done. Then after lunch, fit in a good brisk walk and carry on responding to emails and writing copy through into early evening when the school day is done and they’re out playing in the garden.
Three things have struck me during this lockdown. Firstly, the resilience of UK manufacturing. PR, SEO and content creation for manufacturing is one of the areas in which we specialise, and we work with businesses making everything from cement products, food ingredients through to infrared technology for metal and glass plants, and everything in between! UK manufacturers, including some of our clients, have shown how innovative they can be by adapting their normal processes to developing things like 3D printing for PPE for the NHS or using their design and machining expertise to be part of the supply chain for producing ventilators. It has been great to work with these companies to publicise their efforts and to showcase how they have supported the NHS in the fight against Coronavirus – and we’ve had some great results too.
Secondly there has been a huge increase in visual conference calls, via technologies such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Although these conferencing suites have been around for some time, clients and the media have really embraced them, so we regularly hold ‘catch up’ conference calls to check progress, to chat with editors and to keep the projects moving along. It makes me wonder if we’ll ever again be asked to drive 2-3 hours to a meeting when conference calls can be this effective - maybe long car journeys could be a thing of the past! This would be a positive for the environment and for people’s health too.
Thirdly, I’ve noticed how there feels like a great sense of community in the business world. Everyone knows that things are not great, but businesses are offering each other mutual support – and it’s heartening to see so many people offering positive messages via LinkedIn to each other. Even in our PR and marketing industry, there has been lots of mutual support offered, especially within the South Yorkshire region, with people reaching out to each other. No one wants to hear that another business has gone to the wall. It has been uplifting to read about new digital agencies actually setting up during the coronavirus crisis too. This is also reflected in the community spirit we have seen in our own villages, towns and cities, as people pull together to try and get each other through this lockdown.
One group that I do feel are suffering at the moment are the graduates who are desperately trying to get into PR and marketing careers. We have received an unprecedented number of applications from undergraduates and graduates in the past few weeks to join the Dragonfly PR team with students looking for everything from work experience to internships and full time positions. We’ve had to let them know that we don’t expect to be recruiting again until September this year, but it just goes to show how difficult it may prove to be for new entrants into our sector.
Finally, it’s safe to say that for many people, working life may never be the same again. If we’ve proven that we can work from home effectively, what does that mean for normal office life? Sure, we have all missed the daily catch-ups with colleagues, but also people have been experiencing many positives. Our of our clients ran a survey on virtual working, asking 200 people what they thought. Almost sixty per cent of people said they were loving working from home or found it OK, whilst 28 per cent said they were finding it a bit tough…. Maybe the 28% were the people who were also juggling the challenge of home schooling! The reasons they enjoyed working from home were because there was no commute, they could concentrate better and be more productive, without distraction from colleagues. The jury is out on whether working from home will become the norm, but we have proved it can be done in many industries, including PR and digital marketing, with no detriment to service.
So, stay safe, keep following the guidance and enjoy working from home as much as you can. And, if you are looking for a helping hand with achieving a quick recovery from the lockdown and making up for lost time in your market sectors, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our PR and digital marketing team.
As specialists in construction, manufacturing and food PR, we have almost 20 years’ experience in writing for the trade press, national press, organising PR and marketing campaigns and managing social media and SEO.
Contact me at email@example.com or call 0114 349 5341.