Starting a New Job During the Pandemic

I found myself accepting a job offer from Bospar just as the pandemic forced offices to close and businesses to reevaluate their priorities. While incredibly grateful for the opportunity, I couldn’t help but feel anxious about the unfamiliar process and unforeseen set of challenges that starting a job in the middle of a global pandemic would bring. However, three months in, I’ve found that with the right mindset and a willingness to adapt, you can successfully grow in a new position, regardless of external circumstances and uncertainty. Based on my personal experience, I’ve outlined some tips that will help you successfully navigate this unusual process.

Separate your workspace and your relaxing space

Most of us are not used to working from home. It can be a jolting experience as we are presented with more distractions. On the other hand, without others around, I found myself working later into the night than I usually would. My recommendation is to have a space in your home dedicated solely to working, whether it’s an office, an extra room or even just a desk. This trains your brain to know that when you’re sitting in your workspace, it’s time to focus on work and be productive. It also trains your brain to know that when you get up or move from your workspace, you’re taking a mental break.

Get to know your coworkers, even if it’s over Zoom

In this strange time of quarantine when we are all cut off from our usual interactions, it’s imperative to make connections any way we can. Very Well Mind reports that according to the American Psychological Association, “social isolation can lead to poor sleep, poor cardiovascular health, lower immunity, depressive symptoms, and impaired executive function. When executive function skills are impaired, you may find it more difficult to focus, manage your emotions, remember information, and follow directions.” Making personal connections with your coworkers can help minimize the feeling of isolation and provide a sense of community, resulting in better mental health and better work performance.

Ask people how they like to communicate

As companies digitally transform, you may find your company overcompensating for the lack of face-to-face contact by implementing too many methods to communicate. From Slack and Zoom to Gchat and email and with every coworker preferring a different method, it can be difficult to reach anyone. Don’t be afraid to ask your team members how they prefer to be communicated with. The last thing you want is to spend all of your time tracking down the appropriate person every time you have a question or need an answer, keeping you from getting other work done.

It’s ok to ask for HELP

Anytime you start at a new company, it’s tempting to not want to “bother” anyone by asking for help. Don’t be afraid to ping your coworker, on whatever medium they prefer, and ask your question. It takes much less time for them to answer than for you to spend an hour trying to figure it out yourself. Remember, if deliverables don’t get out on time, it’s the fault of the entire team.

Be patient

Not only is this an unusual, frustrating and downright difficult experience for you, but it’s an adjustment for everyone at the company. Coworkers with kids are now trying to juggle being a professional, a parent and a teacher, all in one. Others may have friends or family affected by the coronavirus or the quarantine. It’s important to remember that everyone is going through an adjustment period. So, if your coworker seems snippy or you don’t have enough work or perhaps you have too much work thrown at you, don’t take it personally. Nine times out of 10, it has nothing to do with you.

 2020 will be especially memorable for me — I started a new job during a time of unprecedented global uncertainty. I hope these keys to my success prove useful should you find yourself in the same predicament. It can be challenging, but it is worth it!

PR in times of turmoil

How to be an informed practitioner when the world around us is in chaos

At its best, PR can elevate important issues and disseminate powerful messages.

At its worst, PR practitioners have been called “story spinners,” “sensationalizers” and “opportunists.”

Our job has been put to the test the last few months, and we’ve been challenged with navigating our clients’ needs while maintaining an awareness of and empathy towards the events this year: wildfires, celebrity tragedies, a pandemic, and civil rights protests.

Amidst all of this turmoil, businesses are still at work—entering into partnerships, developing new products and raising funds—and need to publicize their announcements in order to stay afloat. Which leaves us PR folks in a difficult situation: doing our jobs while remaining sensitive to the world around us.

Curtis Sparrer, a principal at Bospar, perhaps said it best: “There is no one-size-fits-all approach, especially right now.” But there are some steps we can take to ensure that we’re empathetic and strategic in dissemination of client news.

Clarify your intention

The first question to ask yourself (and your client) is about intention. If you’re capitalizing on a tragedy purely to secure coverage for your client, I’d advise against it.

If your contribution to the conversation isn’t well-intentioned, most journalists will recognize that, and, in some cases, put you on blast and tarnish your reputation, your agency’s reputation and your client’s reputation.

Define your message

What are you saying? It’s important to offer something unique and useful to the conversation:

  1. Credible insight
  2. Relevant information
  3. Timely intelligence (such as data)

Whether your message is related to the current events or entirely separate, the language used and the details of the pitch must contain at least one of the elements above.

Timing is everything

In the days and weeks following George Floyd’s death, our agency took a close look at whether or not our outreach and clients’ announcements were essential or if we could wait. We recommended putting on hold non-urgent activities to be sensitive to the environment at the time.

Educate yourself

Finally, do your research. Make sure you understand the complexities surrounding your media outreach. Many of the tragedies we’ve seen this year are nuanced and fraught with issues that might not be obvious. Whether it’s the loss of an icon or a worldwide health crisis, understanding the surrounding issues and sensitivities is key to a thoughtful campaign.