Monday. 20 April. Blank screen. Blank ideas book. Blank client order book and zero revenue stream in the middle of a lockdown pandemic. The perfect time to announce you’re starting a small business. Maybe. Why? The idea is simple and one I’ve had rattling around my head for about three years. A bullshit-free PR, digital comms and content offering from the heart of Europe. We’ve experience of working in North America, UK, and most places in Europe you’ve heard of. And some you haven’t, so why not use it. Most agencies say they ‘do’ Europe or ‘the regions’ on paper, but ultimately execute strategy from London, without boots on the ground or any idea what’s happening in Berlin, Budapest, Amsterdam or Madrid.
At a time when we’re all trying to decipher vital ‘what next’ communications, the asset pinging strategy that works most of the time is failing. COVID19 has shown how many comms leaders and agencies still aren’t first listening to clients and their customers, seven weeks into the #pandemic. There’s a gaping chasm between message and strategy. Currently everyone everywhere is an expert on everything from chem-bio civil resilience to therapeutic living room pot plants that encourage ‘mindfulness’ while you work from home.
Frankly it’s all bollocks and a missed opportunity. Most content and brands getting traction in Europe are doing it from the hearts of communities in Italy or Spain – places worst hit by #coronavirus. Isn’t it time we took more notice of regional offices? It’s time to engage them and unleash their power. Let them lead and create. They might be working remotely, but they know the staff doing things they either didn’t expect to be doing that day or beyond their skill set – the IT director #3Dprinting visors for hospitals in Turin from his basement, to kitchen staff making masks from old tablecloths in Koln. A simple two-minute ‘faces of’ #COVID19 video will cut through more bullshit and engage with more audiences, than an integrated strategy launching “disruptors re-thinking the financial sector experience and model”. Whatever that means. General Patton once said: “A plan is only a plan until the first bullet is fired”. Human events generate human responses, and we’re dealing with customer behaviours that are changing faster than Andrex can make toilet roll. If you’re a communicator, right now sit and think what’s going through the mind of your customer. They’re not an end user or revenue opportunity. They’re like you; human, scared as hell and living day-to-day. The one thing I can guarantee is they’re not thinking about handmade shoes, that €2k electric bike, solar panels for the house, or new set of golf clubs. Listen to what your local teams are saying, act accordingly and support them in the right way. Nick is Director of Zea-Smith Associates PR, Digital Comms and Content Agency www.zeasmithassociates.com