As a society we largely bunkered down in isolation to flatten the curve, but as restrictions ease and we re-emerge, perhaps we are discovering that #isolife wasn’t all sourdough, zoom calls, face masks and TikTok challenges (although they most certainly did feature).
“We’re all in this together.” We’ve heard it ad nauseum as brands, organisations, leaders and celebrities moved through the historical communication phases of a crisis; react, reassure, respond; but are we?
The pandemic is global, but its effects are not universal. How each business, industry, state, community and individual is experiencing the restrictions and shifts to the way we live and work is vastly varied and far from a singular shared experience.
While we heeded the call #stayhome, more than 800,000 Australians lost their jobs and the hospitality and tourism industry was put on ice; but we also saw growth in jobs in health, trades and tech. Parents across the nation were faced with the challenge of home schooling (sorry, remote learning) and working from home simultaneously, but thousands of children went without any educational support due to lack of access to technology or the absence of a safe, supportive home environment.
Never before have the divides between our individual lives felt more distinct and defining of the human experience.
Those single and living alone went from being empowered and independent to being isolated, those working with young children went from striving to achieve work/life balance to struggling to keep their head above water, those with financial security had the privilege of choice to ‘lean in’ to the slowdown and take up a new hobby, and many who lost their jobs also lost all sense of control as to what comes next.
Where we live and the role Government plays in how we live are now defining factors in our lives and identities.
When lockdown measures rolled in, lack of choice had a profound effect on our lives and now the notion of having more choice as restrictions ease may be just as stressful. There is a lot to consider in how to navigate it all; socially, professionally, mentally and logistically.
The spectrum of human experiences at this moment in history is something we are leaning into in our agency, both internally and with our clients: What does the re-entry, or re-imagining, look like? How will this phase play out for our clients’ businesses and customers, and what is to come? How can we better understand our audiences to ensure our communications are relevant and resonate?
Perhaps this particular period will be the starting ground for a transformation for many industries; PR and marketing communications included. That’s certainly our plan; to shift from this phase of protection to progress and pioneer new services and ways of working.
Beyond buzz or brag books; will the pendulum swinging from ‘ego’ to ‘essential’ also bring about a genuine shift in the purpose and value that communications can bring to organisations and brands? As an optimist (with a healthy dose of ‘editorial cynicism’ thanks to my PR background), I like to think it will.