Daney Parker, Editor, PRmoment.com
When we asked PRs what they are looking forward to the most when this all ends (if it ever does) there was one stand-out answer – mixing with other people.
Sue Hardwick, founder and joint president of Global Women in PR, sums it up well: “My goddaughter used the words ‘losing social capital’ by not being in the office – face-to-face connections in the kitchen, the lift, going to lunch –those daily activities we took for granted.
"As much as virtual connections work they cannot replace the real human interaction we need to feel alive and help us be productive. I love the flexibility of home working, but need the stimulus from colleagues to drive actions forward. Body language, laughter and learning have all been missing for me. For our international network (GWPR) there have been no live events or live networking. There is no substitute for meeting in real time where we can share experiences and collaborate – the spontaneity from these activities can lead to change as ideas flourish and plans are made. I am looking forward to working face to face and no longer having to hide the bad hair and hating the Zoom face!”
Below other PRs detail the ways they are most looking forward to getting together with others.
Networking (the way it should be done)
Shimon Cohen, chairman of agency The PR Office: “Pretty much everything has changed and much of it for the better. However, networking is an ‘in-person’ thing and is so core to our industry. So, yes, in-person networking is what I have missed the most. As a team, we adapted brilliantly and quickly to online alternatives. We hosted several successful virtual events and became masters of Zoom. However, there is still a great need to meet in person; although, that too will change. There will be less business travel, shorter meetings and fewer lunches, but all will have a part to play as we reset for the post-Covid business era.”
Meeting in person
Jack Barnett, PR and digital marketing manager at camping equipment specialist OLPRO: "I think the thing I miss the most is being able to introduce myself and the business I work for in person. I've now lost count of the times that I've read the phrase 'It's nice to e-meet you' in an introductory email or a LinkedIn message, and those initial messages tend to blur into one during lockdown when it's so much harder to make an instant impression on someone. As much as I've loved working from home and being able to speak to people across the globe from the comfort of my own home, you just can't beat that personal touch of meeting up with people for the first time."
Going back to the office
Emma Streets, senior PR and brand reputation manager at delivery firm Hermes: “For me, returning to work from maternity leave last summer has meant that I haven’t actually properly been present in an office for two years now, so the prospect of actually being able to reunite with all of my colleagues is a great one!
"Particularly as I’ve been fortunate enough to work in a business that has grown significantly since the pandemic began – there are many members of my department who I’ve not met in person. It’s especially important for me to resume one-to-one sessions with my team face to face as soon as it’s safe, as, especially for the junior employees, it’s just not the same managing and mentoring new starters over Teams. Whilst remote learning and development is great, I think that the whole onboarding process as well as building relationships is so much easier, faster and more fun when you can be together in the same room. Kitchen chats are also a great perk of being in the office that I’m hoping will return!”
Alex Sedgemore, senior editor at PR agency Bottle: “Getting back to the office will bring back those stand up in the office moments where someone shouts ‘anyone done this, got an answer for that, have a journo contact for this story?’. Those moments where a solution is found in a mere moment instead of relying on a number of Slacks or Teams calls.
“As we return to the office I cannot wait to sit and have coffee (or perhaps something stronger in the afternoon), with the team and with our clients. To have a chat and to make plans. Relationships with colleagues and clients are deeper and more personal now, but a bit of the old-normal will be great.”
Jessica Pardoe, senior PR exec at The Source PR: “I’m also missing office life in general, my managing director decided we would be keeping the office and can return when it’s safe to do so. There’s a different dynamic when talking with people face to face and bouncing ideas of each other.”
Hosting events for the media
Amberly Dressler, director of brand and content at human capital management software firm isolved: “Now that millions of people have been vaccinated, there’s so much hope that our personal and professional lives can soon get back to normal. As an AR/PR professional, I am most looking forward to hosting analysts and journalists in person – like our Fall customer event. It’s a rare opportunity to connect them with SMEs, customers, partners, and our brand and product story.
“One thing to keep in mind, however, is that people’s comfort level will continue to be unique to them. It’s understandable that some media may not feel comfortable doing in-person events in the autumn whilst others might. If we’ve learned anything this last year, it’s that all interactions should be driven by empathy and so that’s the approach we should all take in that something we may be most looking forward to could give someone else anxiety.”
Visiting local community organisations
Jessica Pardoe: “Part of my job involves visiting local community organisations and primary schools with clients, I’ve really been missing that as it’s lovely to see where your work is making a direct difference. I can’t wait to get back to doing that.“
There was only one suggestion for something that PRs are missing that doesn’t involve socialising at all, and that was commuting! Bottle’s Alex Sedgemore explains: “The commute, that was previously an hour of isolated ‘me time’, now would be a whole hour of isolation (non-Covid sense). Just me and my audiobook in my car. Yum.”
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