Insights, OpinionPOSTED May 8, 2020

Pandemic word of the hour: PIVOT!

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The past few weeks have been a blur of doom-scrolling, COVID case-counting, and navigating the new normal of virtual meetings, DIY haircuts, and news broadcasts, and grocery store line-ups that go around the block.

Never has there been a greater understanding of what six feet of distance looks like.

Humble bragging and cyberbullying still exist, of course, but sourdough is the new social currency, and sweats-shaming is the new topic garnering polarizing opinions.  

But through all of this, I would argue there are several good things coming out of this strange time.

The veneer is gone

Work-life balance has taken on a whole new meaning. Our homes are now not just homes, but they are our offices, yoga studios, gyms, Instagram backdrops, and schools. The lack of separation of work mode and life mode can be challenging, but I think there’s an upside.

Over the past seven weeks, we have all glanced into our colleagues’ and clients’ homes and family life. We’ve seen messy kitchens, “met” significant others fighting for space at the same dining table, and witnessed each other’s attempts at homeschooling. But this is not just about our colleagues and clients.

We’ve seen celebrities in varying needs of haircuts, heads of state juggling work and life at home, leaders showing their personality by way of their scarves (we even paid tribute to Dr. Eileen De Villa in a recent team meeting) and late-night entertainers recreating their beloved shows from the safety of their respective homes.

Who knew that viral video with the kids breaking into the dad’s study while he was participating in a broadcast interview would foreshadow our new reality?

We’re all in this together

All this to say, we now know what everyone is cooking, watching, worrying about, and laughing at. Mostly because our weekends look quite similar, regardless of race, geography, socioeconomic status, or age. No one person has all the answers. No one has front of the line perks at the grocery store.

There is something comforting and unifying in that. We really are in this together.

Small businesses are feelin’ the love

Another thing that has been incredible to see is people’s love and support for the small businesses that matter to them. Instagram is a haven for small businesses pivoting their operations to continue serving their loyal clientele, and in turn, local residents wearing their hearts on their sleeves in support of these businesses. I’ve personally benefited from the delicious offerings of Jill Chen’s Freestyle Farm Luncheonette, Cucini Catering, and Tinuno Thirty One.

Everything has changed. But in some ways, nothing has.

Over the past seven weeks, we’ve found new ways to support local businesses, supplement income, and entertain and educate children – the things we always did, remixed.

Businesses have done the same – they have found ways to rise to the occasion in their customers’ time of need. Our clients have, like several other companies, changed their assembly lines to produce more PPE, brought fitness conveniently into members’ homes when gyms remain closed, helped parents ensure their kids are keeping up with their homework while school is out, and offered relief in the form of reduced insurance premiums to those who are no longer commuting during the quarantine. And those are just a few of the many ways that companies are stepping up for their customers.

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The opportunity for brands to stand out is now

We know that everyone is scared, but people want to hear from the brands they love. The time to build trust is now. Companies and people who are being smart and pivoting now will be rewarded in the longer term.

In celebration of the strategic pivot – which is embedded in our agency DNA (heck, we named our podcast after the concept) – we launched a virtual training and module in April as a way to ensure brand leaders and area experts can pivot and connect with media and consumers without virtual interview blunders

Rohini Mukherji is a VP of Integrated Communications at APEX PR.