Our chapter recently hosted a virtual social event for members to reconnect while also enjoying a cocktail or mocktail in celebration of National Refreshment Day on July 23. Members shared insights into how their work has evolved since the onset of the pandemic, discussed some of the changes they have noticed within their industries and even competed for a $25 Amazon gift card, which was awarded to Jamie Morris for having the most creative cocktail!
PRSA Detroit president Kim Eberhardt shared how COVID-19 has added an additional lens to communications, one by which virtually all communications must now be viewed.
“Before the pandemic, there were all the normal questions – how are we communicating a message, what are we saying and to whom are we saying it?” She said. “But now, we’re all working to execute communications plans through the additional lens of COVID-19. We have to ask ourselves how the messaging needs to be different. Things are more complex now.”
In addition to more complex communications plans, since the outbreak of COVID-19, many people are working remotely, either partially or completely. Much like how the event’s attendees were connecting virtually, Kim mentioned how virtual meetings can help bring out the humanity in professional relationships. In today’s world, it’s not at all uncommon to hear kids in the background of a Zoom meeting, or perhaps a dog barking at the mailman. In a way, it’s made us get to know our colleagues a little more and can serve as a reminder of the complex lives we all lead outside of the workplace.
It was also fascinating to hear about some of the changes our members have seen within their industries. Curt McAllister, Midwest public relations manager at Toyota, shared that about 60% of all automobile sales are now being done online. While I don’t have an exact figure for what that was before COVID-19, I would bet it was much lower. This new trend could be one of the many lasting changes we see in our society long after COVID-19 is no longer the global pandemic that it currently is.
Another interesting point made during the conversation was from Lisa Peers, who pointed out that some perks jobs offer, such as the ability to work from home, aren’t necessarily perks anymore, but rather the norm. With former perks now becoming normal parts of doing business, it will be interesting to see what companies choose to offer as perks going forward.
It was truly wonderful to reconnect with fellow chapter members virtually and it’s something I believe we’ll look at doing again in the future. Thanks to all who were able to join us!
Jeff Adkins is a public relations specialist with Henry Ford Health System and a Detroit PRSA board member/programming committee chair.
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