The whole world has seen a big adjustment period, and we’re all still learning. Whilst the virus infects people indiscriminately, it has affected people’s lives in totally different ways. Regardless of this, we’re all faced with a very, very different way of living.
What was the last normal thing you did before lockdown? I went to an open mic night (stay with me) for stories. The entire room was pretty tense. I think at least 8/10 performances mentioned COVID-19 in some way. On the way there I’d stood on the tube, touching the bars with my sleeve over my hands, dousing them in anti-bac on arrival. It was actually one of the last times I’d taken public transport, but there’s privilege in that too.
When lockdown was announced, so many thoughts were running through my head. I thought about how awful this crisis is, how scared we all are. I thought about my mum and auntie, both of whom are NHS workers. Then, I kept thinking about how to use this time wisely. How could I better myself? How could I get through all of the personal tasks I’d been putting off?
Posts all over Instagram from well-meaning influencers shouted about how Isaac Newton had worked from home and then discovered the Theory of Universal Gravitation. “Well, congrats Isaac”, I thought, chomping on a chocolate bar lying down on my sofa. I saw people post about how they were thriving in isolation, how they were starting a podcast, or they’d just bagged a new job. And with each post I rolled my eyes, but, somehow, with a deepening sense of guilt. It felt wrong to flick on another episode of Tiger King whilst everyone else was baking a four tier cake or learning how to play the harp in their back garden.
The guilt got the better of me and I bought a guitar and started learning. My mum, laughing, said ‘I give it 10 days and you’ll forget about it’. She knows me very well. But I’m very stubborn and have carried on playing, purely to prove her wrong.
I operate at 200 miles per hour, at all times. I’m in my flat at a maximum of 2-3 nights per week. I was even once described by a former HR colleague as an ‘off the scale’ extrovert, following a Meyers Briggs test. As you can imagine, this lockdown is a bit of a step-change for me.
I’m not the only one who’s felt a huge shift in pace. My age group has been somewhat forgotten in all of the discourse surrounding this crisis. I think it’s been assumed that because we’re young and most of us are relatively healthy, that we’ll be fine. But many of us are in flat shares away from home, we can’t see other people, we’ve had no basic human contact for over 2 months, and if you’re fortunate to still have a job, you’re dealing with all of this on a pretty slim income.
So, how can you, as brands and charities, be there for your customers and supporters? Firstly, we’re all spending a lot of time indoors, and, realistically, that’s just going to carry on. Whether you’re a key worker or not, you’re not exactly about to go to your local 80s club night on your time off. So, make sure your messaging acknowledges that. That’s absolutely fundamental.
Still running messaging about events? Still acting like the world isn’t on fire? You might want to change that now. People are struggling with their mental health, and this crisis has only exacerbated that. Your chances of capturing loyal customers and regular givers have decreased somewhat, with many people worrying about whether they’ll have a job by the time this is all over. A financial commitment is going to be pretty hard to capture. So, give us a short-term product to focus our attention on.
This is a big adjustment period. It’s going to take a lot of getting used to. Most likely, by the time we do get used to it, we’ll be out of it. I think the Financial Times have got it right – it’s going to change everything. Governments will no longer see public institutions as burdens, but, rather, vital infrastructure. The companies that told their employees that their jobs couldn’t be done from home have been served a stark correction. And, maybe, we’ll stop pressuring each other into this faux sense of self-betterment at the expense of our own health. Brace yourself for a different world after this, and a different way of advertising.
When this is all over, and we’re back to standing on a crowded tube with our faces in someone’s armpit, we’ll all sigh and say, ‘remember when we were all at home’? Give consumers and supporters something to look forward to. Tell them you’ll still be here when this is all over, and that whilst you need their support now more than ever, you’re going to need that to continue in the long-term.
By Grace Almond, Digital Account Executive