Creativity is leading out of Lockdown

As we all experience the heat of proper summer, the country around us is starting to slowly open up. You may have seen our excitement at the announcement that cinemas will be formally reopening from 4 July, with appropriate distancing measures in place. But the creative minds in media, marketing and production have hardly been idle while stuck at home, so we thought we’d digest some of our favourite recent innovations in the space from some very bright minds

Smart design is tackling the problem of getting kids used to masks

If you go near Twitter you’ll know that enough adults seem to have problems with the concept of wearing facemasks – so explaining the potentially scary concept to kids is a daunting task. Step forward, Nalla Design (recent participants in our Virtual Escape Room), who have come up with a way of making face coverings less scary, more fun for small kids. Just download, print out, cut out and your rather anonymous nose and mouth covering becomes a bear, a tiger, or a bulldog. With more designs set to drop, we think this is a great design-led approach to a potentially serious problem.

The magic of Eurovision taps into pop up radio

No-one loves an innovative bit of film or TV content like us, so when Magic and the new Will Ferrell comedy announced they had teamed up to launch a pop-up Eurovision themed radio station, to support the streaming launch of the song competition-themed film, we stood up and applauded. Not only are we partial to a bit of Abba and Bucks Fizz (well as much as the next PRs), but radio has been surging in popularity as we were all housebound. Content-led, innovative ways to support film releases which could otherwise have passed by on streaming? More please. It’s also a great way of including songs from the film to extend possibilities for the content, as well as frankly giving us all a much-needed giggle. We didn’t get to enjoy real Eurovision this year from the comfort of our houses – but this might be the next best thing.

Keeping the festival experience alive

It won’t have escaped anyone’s notice that the doyenne of summer festivals, Glastonbury, just isn’t happening this year. But people keen on replicating the experience have been taking matters into their own hands – and back gardens. With a tent, a speaker, access to the content at our fingertips and a surprisingly small amount of mud, this is homegrown experiential from people not only keen to keep summer traditions going but also eager to share that experience s far as they can in bubbles. We’re now connected as never before and the crop of virtual and streaming festivals and concerts emerging is not going to stop some outdoors summer fun. Expect this to be a trend which experiential taps back into when lockdown lifts further and client budgets unfreeze. It keeps an event unique and exclusive but also intimate and personal. That sector deserves it.


“Stronger together” – words for PR and Marketing agencies to adapt by?

First things first – this isn’t going to be another piece talking about why it’s important to keep marketing during lockdown, or a recession. The world has had more than enough of those hot takes, and we won’t be adding to them.

No – this is a message to PR and marketing communications agencies and individuals around the country. Through my career I have had the great fortune to work with a wide range of agency side and in-house marketers, and with only a few notable exceptions they’ve been utterly lovely. Smart, dedicated, focused and knowledgeable people. The kind of people you like to have a good chat with because you know you’ll learn something and come out stronger the other side. It’s why I’m enjoying involvement with the PRCA Marcomms Council so much – there’s a great mix of people.

Our profession is often tagged with being so competitive. Pitches are often celebrated in terms of which, or how many other agencies you beat in the process. Its easy to buy into this dog-eat-dog process but beneath the surface there are often plenty of people willing to help each other out, and up, on an individual basis.

The country has seen a mass coming together and growth of community spirit, at least in certain areas, just when we’re all physically more distant from each other than ever. Its hitting marketing hard. Numerous reports are taking pessimistic views of the months to come; PR Week surveys have three quarters of agency heads ‘very concerned’ about business. This isn’t the time for us to scatter like drops of mercury. Its time to help each other out.

If any line of discussion about the impact of Coronavirus is consistent at the moment, its that business will change as a result. Whether its in terms of office space, agencies managing to survive through the lockdown and others managing to restart and get clients back on board – its that we need to be more flexible in our approaches. Open. Collaborative. We all have skillsets, knowledge and talent which is unique to our business. Resources can be pooled to help us to come through this.

You may dismiss this as naivety. It does sound a little utopian. But it’s not beyond the realms of possibility for us to have the will to help each other. There’s a post currently spreading around my LinkedIn like wildfire of people offering recommendations and assistance to help people they know to find work if they have lost their jobs due to COVID. It’s not many steps forward to think of ways agencies can be pooling resources and knowledge, or just changing their practices, to be helping out any way they can. We’re open to fractional support for people who may just need a blog post or a press release as a standalone to maintain line of sight. Bigger, much less flexible organisations wouldn’t consider changing service offerings like that. But if one thing is clear at the moment, it’s that operating models will change post-Lockdown, and we need to be open to that change.

In marketing, the topic of changing business models is a perennial one – you can almost count on it coming around year after year like spring florals or metallics for the Christmas party. The current situation has the potential to make flexibility meaningful, and potentially lasting. We’re used to thinking on our feet in PR and finding new, alternative suggestions. We could be doing that, now, together – for the common good.