This is changing how we work ‘for good’

It is the end of May and I’ve changed my Zoom virtual background at least ten times. Every day is one meeting right after another because frankly it’s easy to stack meetings when you don’t have to drive to them. I’ve also achieved “video bingo” having done meetings on Zoom, Teams, Google, Skype, WebEx and RingCentral.

I’m not sure if any of those “new normal” accomplishments are good or bad, but they are what life is for most of us in public relations and marketing today.

However, there are things that we’re doing and learning that I think we will keep as we transition to whatever June, July and January bring. Some are more video focused and some are just good business in the age of the virus.

Video and media relations

In a few short weeks, the media has accepted the use of video for deskside briefings and demonstrations. Our client, Virginia Distillery Company, has conducted a series of virtual video tasting for its spirited product line. The result is a more cost-effective, non-travel way to create more intimate relationships with media and influencers. The ability to hold more events for a curated number of invitees on a more regular basis will now become a regular weapon in our arsenal.

Similarly, national media are accepting video deskside conversations across the board. Again, saving on travel and time, and more personal than a conference call because folks can see each other.

B-roll and website imagery

Add social distancing and masks to the list of things you will need to address as you update your website and video imagery. I don’t know about you, but it already feels weird to me to see a TV commercial that has people sitting next to each other in a public place. The longer this goes on, the weirder it will seem. Start reviewing your imagery now to see what updates you’ll need to make in the coming weeks and months.


In the good old days, like 60 days ago, this was important. Now it is imperative. Your clients’, customers’ and vendors’ lives have changed. Do your offerings and products still resonate? You may want to ask them. And it seems the storyline and folks’ attitudes are changing at a record pace. You may want to survey them in some way on a regular basis to keep up with those changes.

Webinars and video deliver

I know, I know, you’d like a dime for every webinar invite you’d gotten in your inbox over the last two months. But in the new world, they are replacing conventions, seminars and events. If you’re not actively exploring this for you and your clients, then you are likely missing out. And they are a lot easier to put together than they have been in the past. Especially since we’re all becoming video conference wizards.


This is how easy it is now. I DM’ed a friend at another agency on Twitter the other day just to check in on him. He DM’ed back, “wanna Zoom?” That led to a 30-minute conversation which led to a collaborative project. Sure, we used to do this over a coffee or the phone, but coffees might not be happening for a while and this seemed a little more fun and personal than a phone call.

This will be networking for a while longer. Set a goal of three of these networking “calls” a week. I’ve been doing them and for some reason I like these better (at least for now).


OK, Wildcats. We’re all in this together (too much Disney Channel as my daughter grew up). Seriously we are, and I’ve found joy in collaborating with others on many levels. Whether it has been helping the community, giving free advice or working on projects that could lead to business down the line, the collaborative spirit is alive and well even though we’re all hunkered down.

Maybe it is because we’re hunkered down, but folks are more than willing to work together during this time. I hope it’s the beginning of a new collaborative movement. Reach out to peers and allied organizations and see if that are willing to work together. It will expand your universe.

Ok, gotta go wash my hands now….

Jon Newman

In 2002 Jon cofounded The Hodges Partnership and has helped to grow it into one of the country’s largest public relations firms (based on O’Dwyer’s annual rankings). Jon has taught communications as an adjunct professor at VCU, speaks regularly at conferences and meetings and blogs and tweets about public relations and marketing issues.

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