In such unprecedented times, Steve Mackenzie shares simple ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ he & EventBooking are practicing, both personally & professionally.
It’s hard to believe that less than a month ago, most of us were going about our daily lives as normal. Perhaps a thought would surface every so often about a virus spreading far away. But fast forward to today, and the world as we know it has completely changed.
In this time of adjusting to new “normals,” both in my personal and professional life, it may be worth sharing what the current circumstance is teaching me and our company as a whole. Beyond fluffy pontifications on life, I believe there are very practical lessons we’ve all been gleaning. I’ve listed a few of these here, as much for my own cathartic purposes as well as for others who like me, are riding the waves of such astounding circumstances.
Learning how to navigate the current moment is hard enough as an individual—emotionally, mentally, financially. So it’s no surprise that entire companies, composed of dozens of individuals, are struggling to navigate this landscape as well. Especially from a business standpoint, many of us feel like we’re in uncharted waters. However, I believe there are very tangible do’s and don’ts we can use as a compass and guide.
SALES & MARKETING
DON’T BE OPPORTUNISTIC OR ADD TO THE NOISE
I am astounded at the companies offering non-essential services that are using this time to try and cleverly market their products—some more subtle than others—but many still smell of opportunistic tactics. Taking advantage of such hysteria is callous, greedy and reprehensible. Don’t do it.
As a company, we discussed the best way to handle sales and marketing in these times of crisis. And the overwhelming consensus was to step back, quiet down, be empathic, and help where we can. As this wise article points out, the best way for our company to market or sell during a crisis is to hardly do so at all.
And as for all the COVID-19 updates? I don’t care how much more you are cleaning your office, or that your brand has my wellbeing in it’s thoughts—especially when I was added to your email list 4 years ago and I don’t remember who you are. Don’t add to the noise already out there, clutter my inbox, or add to my anxiety.
As far as our business is concerned, this is the one time the sales department should be reactionary—responding to those who reach out to us, and not proactively reaching out under the guise of virus-related click bait.
DO RECOGNIZE THE GOOD & BE AUTHENTIC ABOUT THE BAD
On our social media channels, the only virus-related content we’re sharing is industry-related articles written by IAVM, VenuesNow, or Billboard—detailing how our clients are going above and beyond to serve their community in creative ways, like the Chase Center, Staples Center, and PPL Center.
The best way to communicate about “the bad” right now, if you absolutely have to do it, would be to offer genuinely helpful information, and be as authentic and honest as you can be while doing it. Here I have to give a shout-out to Ian Whitworth, an industry colleague in Australia, who writes a phenomenal blog every week. Our fingers are crossed that his audio-visual company can weather the storm of recently cancelled and postponed events—but in the meantime, he’s navigating the challenges with refreshing honesty and truly helpful insight. Kudos to you, Ian.
WORKING FROM HOME
I’ve worked from home for the better part of 20 years across several jobs, so it’s nothing new for me. However, it did take some getting used to. I remember when I first started working from home in 1998, I had to wear a suit at home (I kid you not) for a week or so in order to get into the right frame of mind!
This work-from-home concept is quite new for a lot of people. As a company, it’s uncanny timing that we actually started an optional “work from home” program literally 3 weeks before the pandemic forced us to. Timing is everything, as they say, so we were able to seamlessly morph into a 100% virtual office and not miss a beat.
- Set yourself definite hours and stick to these as best you can.
- Take time to get up and walk around, walk the dog, take a proper lunch break, etc.
- Ensure a good internet connection—there’s nothing worse than trying to work and being held to ransom by a spinning wheel every time your email or website tries to load.
- Don’t stress if some days you fail at sticking to your tasks – with kids at home and other distractions it’s going to happen. Don’t beat yourself up over it
- Don’t hesitate to ask for what you need. If you’re employed by a company or organization that supports your work-from-home setup, request the equipment you need to get your job done comfortably and efficiently.
- Don’t snack all day. It may seem funny, but many people new to working from home may find themselves visiting the pantry / fridge more often than they would in a regular office setting. Try to stick to your normal meal and snack habits!
DO INVEST IN THE RIGHT TOOLS
During this age of incredible technology there are so many great tools to assist with team communications. At work, we use Slack for most of our internal communication and have been for the past 3+ years. It has literally cut down our internal email by 90% or more. I’m sure there are other similar tools out there too, but Slack has worked well for us. We also use Zoom for video calls – whether it be for client calls or internal calls, there’s something to be said for being able to see the other people on video, rather than just hearing a voice.
DON’T BE THAT COWORKER
For everyone else’s sake, make sure you’re aware of your surroundings and know the tools on a basic level before jumping head-first into your first remote meeting.
DON’T OVERWHELM YOURSELF (OR OTHERS)
In the age of 24-hour information, you can get overwhelmed very easily. The current situation is awful—there’s no getting away from that. But if you immerse yourself in every breaking news story across every medium, you’ll end up in the fetal position on your lounge room floor before the end of the week. But in all seriousness, I really wish people would stop adding to the hysteria—especially when they post or share things that clearly haven’t been fact-checked. It’s pretty simple: if you read something that sounds shocking, just do a quick fact check on www.snopes.com or https://www.factcheck.org/ before blindly posting it.
DO EMBRACE THE COMEDIC RELIEF
Let’s face it, there’s been some pretty darn clever memes and videos made since this started. The light relief these offer have definitely given my wife and I a few laughs. Here’s one of my favorites:
While this falls more into the camp of “personal” rather than “professional,” the truth is that all of our co-workers and employees have people in their lives they care deeply about.
Having lived my entire adult life in a different country from the majority of my family, I’ve always had to deal with long distance love in that sense. But this month has been different—a truly global crisis, and I can’t just jump on a plane to be with my parents, my siblings, or even my own children. Those who don’t live in the same country as their family will understand what unique pain this causes. I want to hug them all and tell them everything is going to be okay, and that we’ll ride this out together. But I can’t.
DO KEEP IN TOUCH
FaceTime, WhatsApp, and texting is the glue that now binds me with my family. It doesn’t replace seeing them face-to-face, and that hurts my heart. But it’s times like this that the importance of family rises to the top of my thoughts, and I find myself incredibly thankful for the “closeness” that technology can somewhat provide.
DON’T LOSE HOPE
We will get through this. I certainly don’t know when that might be, but I do know we will. In the meantime, follow the guidelines and stay away from others! Be kind, be respectful, be patient. This is the time to show the real traits you want people to know you by.
About the Author: Steve Mackenzie is President at EventBooking, an innovative cloud-based venue management solution with over 1,000 clients around the globe, and with regular polling of its clients has an unprecedented 99% customer satisfaction level.
“Many feel like we’re in uncharted waters. However, I believe there are very tangible do’s and don’ts we can use as a compass and guide.”