While we understand that these are difficult times and the country is already in lockdown 4.0; digital agencies continue to provide their expertise to brands in order to guide their brand communication strategies with responsible messaging at the heart of it.
In our endeavor to bring views that matter and completely different, Medianews4u spoke to Yashwant Kumar, Founder and CEO – GenY Medium to understand the nuances of agency life during lockdown and the introduction of work from home along with the many new normal post the lockdown.
Tell us about how the business for the agency been shaping up? What are some recent achievements that you would want to highlight?
Just like most businesses, we are also impacted hugely by COVID-19 and the countrywide lockdown. Our teams in Hyderabad, Delhi and Bangalore had already started work from home a couple of days before the Janta Curfew. By now we have become fairly comfortable about working and collaborating with each other remotely. All of our customers have also been very supportive and have adjusted to having reviews and discussions via digital interactions on zoom and hangout calls.
While many industries have taken a huge hit because of the crisis, several businesses have swiftly moved to serve their customers online. I am very proud of our teams which enabled our edtech, healthtech and also consumer goods brands to scale up their online operations. It gives us a lot of joy and satisfaction that they are able to serve the end customers in these uncertain times and are giving some hope of normalcy and continuity to all of us.
While COVID-19 has struck all of us very hard… brands are still being a part of the conversation by responsible messaging… tell us about some of the campaigns that are credited to the agency?
It is very heartening to see that several brands have made it a priority to encourage the netizens to maintain social distancing, wash their hands more often and practice healthy habits. Several of customers that we work with are really doing remarkable work and are making a real difference to people and communities they serve.
One of my favourite examples is the social media campaign by Regency Hospital in Kanpur. They are running a campaign on spreading awareness about important steps for preventing the spread of the outbreak. Their content series covers myths vs. facts about the virus, about things people can do to maintain good mental health and also about how to communicate with the kids in the family. As a part of this campaign, they have also created awareness about passes issued by police which can be easily obtained by calling the hospital in case someone needs to visit them for any medical advice. This is a great example of how a brand can use marketing channels to really provide valuable information and also serve people when they need their help.
How have brands changed or modified their communication strategy? And what has been your advice to all your clients?
Brands are realizing that they need to quickly move to a plan B as the business as usual won’t yield the results anymore. For brands which are a necessity (healthcare, baby care, dairy, education, and other digital-first businesses), this is the time to try for a significantly higher share of voice and share of mind. They should expect intense competition because each brand would fight for salience. The endeavour should be to come out of the COVID crisis with better recall and preference numbers so that as things normalize, you see better sales.
During these are hard times how are you keeping up the morale of your teams that are working remotely? How are you making sure about the mental health of employees so that the lockdown doesn’t drive people crazy?
Head of our Human Resources team is taking the lead on this. He is having 1:1 conversations with all the employees on a periodic basis just to make sure they continue to stay motivated and engaged with work. In addition, we are organizing virtual townhalls where the management team is asking everyone about their well-being and are also addressing their concerns related to the timelines of this lockdown, customer attrition, workload, collaboration with other team members, job security etc.
What is your experience of working from home?
Work from home is a mixed bag just like everything else. We are off course saved from all that time wasted in commuting to the office and also the traffic and pollution when we step outside our homes. Also, WFH allows one to have better control of their daily schedule and we have been able to dedicate more time to eating healthy and practicing workout routines like dance or yoga. We are also getting to spend quality time with our partners and families which are very important and helps you stay focused and centered.
Being a digital agency how are you making sure that you’re ahead of the curve in these times of uncertainty and crisis?
I believe one of the upsides of the Covid-19 is that the world will become more digital vs. earlier. We are in constant communication with our prospects and existing customers and are encouraging them to explore digital transformation opportunities and wherever possible create digital touchpoints for their customers.
What has been the impact of COVID-19 on your business and the ability to generate new business?
We have seen a mixed impact of this crisis. Some of our customers had to pause their marketing activities once their businesses were hit badly. This was mostly unavoidable for a variety of businesses in sectors like retail, real estate, coworking spaces, consumer durables, at-home care. On the other hand, some of our clients have also increased their investments, they are launching new products, brand restage campaigns and are very committed to capitalizing on this opportunity.
Our ability to generate new business has been restricted to a certain extent. Most businesses are trying to maintain basic continuity and are choosing to park decisions on marketing investments until there is more clarity about the end of lockdown. They are revisiting their annual operating plans and hopefully will be looking to making some major gains in the 2nd quarter in order to meet their business goals for the year.
How will businesses shape up post the lockdown?
I believe the recovery after the lockdown might take several months and businesses will prioritize offering a safe and hygienic environment to their employees and customers. We should be able to go back to our offices in the 2nd quarter of this year and hopefully, business as usual with all the customer meetings, pitches, travels, and meetings with friends won’t be too far behind. Industry sectors like retail, sports, entertainment, hospitality will most likely see a slower recovery than others.