My experience working for Mallory Group has been rather unique. After months of trawling the internet for jobs to little avail, I came across Mallory’s hiring page. I thought my background in journalism was well-suited to a position that requires a knack for storytelling and, besides, I had nothing to lose by trying. Although I was initially concerned about my lack of practical PR know-how, my concerns were quickly allayed during the interview process. My team members Christianne and Emily assured me that this internship is about learning, not prior knowledge. I found this approach refreshing after seeing countless Linkedin job adverts asking for interns but demanding upwards of a year’s experience. I was so excited to learn I’d secured the position and would be joining a small, nimble agency in which I would have the opportunity to shoulder responsibility, but also be supported in my learning. An added bonus was that I was free of the at-home office I share with my dad, or so I thought...
Following a brief sojourn in our Victoria offices (three hours, to be precise), Angus, our partnerships intern, and I were sent packing with the office plants in our care. We hadn’t been fired, the government had just announced initial social distancing measures to combat the spread of Covid-19. From the outset, I realised I was lucky to be working for an agency that takes its social responsibilities seriously. We immediately packed up and settled into working from home. Daily team meetings and Friday night beers over Google hangouts ensure that business continues (almost) as usual. I think entering the industry at a crisis point has taught me some valuable lessons that are applicable beyond the pandemic. Although I’m no expert (yet!), I would like to share a few key takeaways I have observed over the last few weeks.
- Prove value to clients by getting even closer and responding to the unique challenges they are facing. Clients are relying on their PR and comms agencies to stay abreast of any and all pandemic-related developments and how they might affect consumer behaviour, but they are also relying on us to prove that we know the best course of action for them to take right now. While some businesses may be grounded at present, PR work needn’t grind to a halt. Instead we should be developing creative responses to the current moment that are tailor-made to our client’s situations. In doing so, we can implement concrete solutions that work for brands. In lieu of being able to chat to co-workers in the office, it is all too easy to get stuck on meandering Zoom calls where ideas are bandied about but nothing is really achieved. It is far more valuable to clients for us to come to them with actionable insights that prove our intimate knowledge of their business.
- Offer socially responsible advice to clients. Whilst this should always be true, it is now more important than ever. We have all seen the backlash certain companies have faced for putting their staff and customers at risk, whether this was through mass layoffs without compensation or ignoring government social distancing implementations. With the whole world watching, businesses need to do the right thing to maintain the trust of their customer-base. PR and communications agencies need to be at the forefront of this effort and make sure that any communications proffered take into account the wellbeing of customers and staff. If this lockdown has proved anything, it is that we have a duty of care to one another.
- Adopt a flexible approach. “Unprecedented” has become a bit of a buzzword as of late but this situation is truly unique to everyone. Every day brings new challenges and agencies need to be flexible and light-footed in their approach. For Mallory, this meant thinking outside of the box in terms of what can be done while the sports industry is on hold. With no travel and no events, we needed to get creative in our communications. We asked ourselves what kind of content our clients could put out on social channels to engage their audiences? The press still needs situation-appropriate content - what can we offer them right now? Now that everyone has more time on their hands, how can we nurture pre-existing relationships and cultivate new ones? Adaptability is key to weathering this storm.
These last three weeks have been a learning curve for everyone - coronavirus has left no business unscathed - but it’s also all I have ever known of the world of PR and communications. Joining in the midst of a pandemic illuminates weaknesses in communications strategies that may have been overlooked by people used to the status quo. It also makes evident clear courses of action that need to be adhered too in order for businesses to survive. The lessons I have learned during these three weeks have shaped my perception of the industry and will stay with me long after lockdown. I hope one day I’ll be writing my blogs from our office surrounded by my teammates but, for now, I’ll be in the study I share with my dad.