On March 9, 2021, almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., we hosted a webinar with PR Week to ask a panel of communications experts across healthcare, agency, and academic sectors, a few not-so-simple questions: What do they think has changed forever? What from our playbooks still applies? What must evolve? And how must communicators and marketing leaders pave the path ahead?
After the Webinar, I had the opportunity to catch up with its moderator and host, Gideon Fidelzeid, managing editor of PR Week, to ask him what he felt were the most surprising moments during the discussion, as well as get his take on how he thinks the pandemic will reshape our future:
Steve: Given your work at PR Week and what you heard in the webinar with G&S and the other esteemed guests, what’s your take one year into the pandemic on the potential role communicators have to play when it comes to this concept of “Reshaping the Future?”
Gideon: Comms has always been in a unique position in the way that it touches every aspect of a business - HR, finance, IT, etc. It's often been referred to as the "conscience of the business." Those words have never proved truer than they have over the past year and up to right now. It's tangible how the C-suite now turns to PR for business counsel. And that enables and empowers comms to "reshape the future" more holistically than ever before. It's not just reshaping its future, but business' future.
Steve: What was the most surprising takeaway or insight from your perspective from the Reshaping the Future conversation?
Gideon: I don't think I'd call this "surprising," but I left that conversation more confident than ever that the comms industry is ready to do what it takes to have the diverse, inclusive and equitable representation it needs to have.
Steve: What do you personally feel has changed the most since the start of COVID-19, and what do you feel (either from your own experience or what you heard from our panelists) that communicators can learn and improve based on “all of this”?
Gideon: The fact we were all forced to work remotely could have easily frayed the sense of teamwork that is essential to good business (whether it's PR, the media, etc.). But I legitimately think teams have gotten closer since COVID-19 started. In many ways, COVID has brought about a feeling of "we're in this together" more than anything ever has. As far as what can be learned by "all of this": Comms (and it's not alone) has often struggled to work well with marketing and other disciplines. I am hoping the spirit of "we're all in this together" can put an end - once and for all - to silos within the creative arms of brands. Everyone will reap the benefits if that happens.
Watch the Reshaping the Future webinar below.