March 31, 2020
- Zoom calls: hundreds
- Exercise sessions: daily
- Dogs on zoom calls: 2
- Children being ‘homeschooled’: 9
- Virtual team pub drinks: 2
Unprecedented times. It’s a term that has most definitely been overused in recent weeks, but it really is true. Never have we seen anything as all-consuming as the attempts to curtail the spread of COVID-19. This pandemic has affected every client from every sector of the travel industry and for everyone it has been devastating.
As an agency, we’ve been working from home for a few weeks now, but here’s a little snapshot of our lives since Boris announced the lockdown on Monday 23rd March 2020.
Monday – we assessed the weekend papers – having spoken to all the travel editors in the run up to the weekend to gauge intended sentiment and provide stories, this first weekend after a non-essential travel advisory was always going to be interesting. Lizzie Frainier’s commentary piece on how travel is a privilege and not a right struck a chord with all of us and we also loved a first raft of ‘armchair travel’ coverage for our clients.
That night, as suspected, Boris announced that we would be on lockdown.
Tuesday – following the announcement, we put the contingency plans we had for many clients anticipating this into place. So many of our UK hotel clients are doing amazing work to support the Government that are not for PR purposes, it makes us really proud to work with like-minded companies that answer to a higher purpose.
That night, we had an impromptu team Zoom drinks - the only reaction a sociable group of hardworking PRs and marketers could have to being told to stay at home.
By Wednesday, the majority of our recovery plans were being reviewed by clients or the final pieces of research were being tweaked to send them over. I’m so impressed and proud of the turnaround of these really dynamic and intelligent plans that are all as adaptable as possible to ensure that we can move with the news cycle as well as anticipate what is to come (which is no mean feat). We had also launched our media survey to provide our clients and industry friends with a poll on what stories media were looking for, when they were planning certain pieces of content etc – results have been analysed by the team put into a document by our brilliant designer – get in touch if you want to see them!
That night, I discovered the Finn Parents Teams group - everyone from across the Finn Partners family has been sharing useful tips on homeschooling as well as memes to keep us going whilst the little blighters are under our feet.
Thursday – There have been so many round up requests this week that by Thursday I counted 11 and as a team we pulled them together across all clients to make it easier for media to take it all in – this demonstration of team work is what makes Brighter brighter. We also pitched a few nifty new ideas based on some of the brilliant positive news stories we are hearing about from clients such as Advantage member @AlthamsTravel redeploying its fleet of airport transport vehicles and drivers to deliver medicines and driving patients to appointments, Iceland’s deCode Genetics mass scale testing and plan to share results to help tackle the spread of the virus and distilleries in Nova Scotia shifting production to make hand sanitizer for non-profits and health workers
It was also #worldtravelindustryday and as a team we not only work with our clients and media, but also other PRs, marketers and industry professionals across the board – this show of solidarity has been important to be part of and we are really proud that our managing partner Debbie is part of TTG’s Business Support Live team and will be offering her infinite PR wisdom to those who need it in the coming weeks
That night we all stood on our front door steps or balconies or hung out of our windows to clap our amazing NHS workers who are saving lives. Cue tears of gratitude and solidarity with our neighbours.
Friday – In addition to our daily coverage updates on Coronavirus developments in the UK and our social media trends, we produced our survey results from our media audit and our social media guidance document to help client navigate these tricky times. Our Finn family across the globe has also been sharing their documents so we’ve had insight from our colleagues in Asia, who are now coming out the other side of lockdown, which has been invaluable.
That night we had our weekly group team zoom drinks at 5.30pm – some clever beans changed their backgrounds to our fave locals in Old Street – others of us discovered the ‘touch up’ setting to make us look a little more presentable. As we shared stories about dogs invading zoom calls and Skype dating disasters, we also came up with some blinding ideas for some client campaigns and toasted all our clients, media and industry friends, thus epitomising the Finn ethos of Work Hard, Play Nice.
There’s been a lot to loathe this week, but we need to remain positive so here are a few things we have loved:
- Lisa Minot and Claire Irvin on the news – they really have all of our backs with their sage advice and understanding of both the industry and consumer concerns. Thank you for being brilliant.
- Roxhill and Social With Media events
- UNWTO’s call for innovators to put forward solutions to help the tourism sector recover from COVID-19
- The Developing Resilience in the Face of COVID-19 webinar by the Resilience Council
- Simon Calder’s instachats have been a real highlight in addition to his broadcast stories.
- Nick Trend’s commentary on why a bit of flexibility might just save an industry hit all the right notes
- Nigel Thompson’s ed’s letter on why he’s covering travel in a time of lockdown #forwhentheworldisbacktonormal
- Positive news stories from all over. We’ve always been fans of @thehappynewspaper but new Instagram accounts like @coronavirusgoodnews are springing up and are full of wonderful stories from around the globe
- And finally – we loved the P&O Britannia’s message of support for our brilliant NHS