Guest contributor: Kelly Gilmour-Grassam, Director at Making You Content
(Written on 03 April 2020)
It’s not often that wordsmiths are lost for words. But it’s safe to say that the speed at which the UK went from a distant bystander to standing in the eye of the storm of COVID-19 took us all by surprise.
Thankfully, as an agency that has always embraced flexible working, we were quick to adapt to the ‘new normal’ even before the official lockdown. The past month hasn’t come without its challenges (and inevitable impact of a huge strain on the economy), but Making You Content has managed to ride the storm so far by keeping true to our values as agile, curious, genuine and capable grafters.
Here are the three key ways in which we’ve been able to stay content and carry on:
Making tough decisions early
When the rumbles of the pandemic started, there was definitely a change in the atmosphere at MYC. As some businesses voluntarily began sending staff home, and a lockdown seemed imminent, it became clear that everyone was feeling a little anxious – especially with early announcements of redundancies spiralling in the news.
Keeping everyone in a job was our number one priority. Eager to both reassure the team while getting a handle on the situation, we began forecasting for the coming months based on the likely and worst-case scenario. We proposed pay cuts to ensure that everyone absorbed the hit together, and to prevent any casualties later.
“I’m a planner. When coronavirus began to make waves, I’d already mapped out my own worst-case scenario involving unemployment and deferring mortgage payments. For this reason, I was grateful when Kelly, our Director, decided to take an unreserved approach and explain how MYC’s priority above all else was to keep the whole team in employment. Instead of an overwrought email, we were told in our first daily Skype meeting what the situation was and the sacrifices that would be necessary. There’s a lot less anxiety in knowing exactly where you stand.” – Sam Askey
Keeping the team spirit alive
We’re incredibly proud of the culture we’ve built over the years at MYC. But keeping the same team spirit alive over a long period of time while working remotely was always going to be a litmus test for how strong this really was.
We all agreed that regular contact would be key to keeping everyone motivated, productive... and sane! To this end, we’ve set up daily video calls, with each member of the team given an opportunity to lead an activity to ensure these catch-ups remain varied and uplifting.
So far we’ve had pub, movie and photo quizzes, virtual games of hangman, and show-and-tell sessions. We also have a few new channels in Slack, the tool we use for messaging between the team, to keep the focus on our wellbeing.
“I’ve worked from home for two years previously, so I wasn't as worried as some may have been when Kelly took the decision to enforce remote-working. However, this time around, the support from the entire team has made the experience much better. It might sound silly, but the daily video calls allow you to just forget everything else that is going on – and laugh about menial things. I know that if there was a day when I was struggling, the MYC team would be there to pick me up.” – Lucy Acton
Seeing the opportunity
Like most agencies, the pandemic has taken its toll on our client base. But not all businesses are impacted – and some are even experiencing an uplift in demand. So, while we’ve been careful to make sure any communications for ourselves or on behalf of clients have been tactful given the current climate, we’ve been seeking out the opportunities that come with it too.
For our existing clients, we’ve been reviewing the strategies we had in place prior to the pandemic and making recommendations around content that could be more relevant and timely over the coming weeks. Meanwhile, we’re finally finding the time to work on our own marketing – identifying sectors that are still likely to spend over the coming months and targeting them directly.
“‘The economy is going to crash. Everyone better get prepared to lose their jobs.’ That seemed to be the entire nation’s first thought. But I walked into Tesco, and they were advertising vacancies. I spoke to friends, and they had decided to sign up to online courses and classes. IT businesses have been incredibly busy too with clients needing to work from home. There are winners and losers in every situation, even a global pandemic.
So rather than choose to simply accept what was happening, I thought: whose services will be in demand in the coming months? I put together a list and ended up with significantly more crucial industries than I first anticipated. It just goes to show that, if you see the opportunity, you can lessen the impact of a crisis.” – Miranda Blake
It’s still hard to say how the next few months will pan out, and there’s no doubting that we’re not yet over the worst of it, but we’re optimistic about our position as an agency. By staying true to our values, and pulling together as a team, we are confident that we will come out stronger at the other side!
Making You Content
Making You Content is a Member of the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter. They are a dynamic team of copywriters, editors and social media experts - who help brands grow through communication by giving them a voice that gets heard.
The business' success has come largely through its structure, where everyone is given a platform to take ownership of their clients' brands and contribute to the growth of the company.