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April 7, 2020

Isentia Conversations with Bec Brown from The Comms Department

In the second of our Isentia Conversations: Communicating through Change webinar series, we chat to Bec Brown from The Comms Department about working from home during this time. We also chat to Isentia’s ANZ Head of Insights, Ngaire Crawford about the traditional and social media conversations around the largest working from home experiment.

Below you can find the key takeaways from the webinar:

Working from home with Ngaire Crawford at Isentia

4:00 – Isentia’s Ngaire Crawford explains there are some common problems when working from home and it’s important to be aware of the issues team members might face. 

Below are the main conversations from mainstream media:

  1. Productivity while working from home and understanding how to mitigate risk when working from home.
  2. Managing teams virtually
  3. Accessing information remotely
  4. Data security risks – tips and advice on how to manage your teams, and data security. Zoom has been mentioned a significant number of times with the security of the platform in question. Houseparty has also been a popular networking app during this time.
  5. Supporting Technologydo we have everything we need to effectively work from home?

Meantime, on social media, people are sharing tips, jokes and memes about trying to work from home in a full house.

6:10 – According to Google trends, Australians and New Zealanders are searching online for working from home memes to share humorous situations with each other.

7:08 – Interestingly, in South East Asia, the internet and good connectivity is seen as a basic human right, the same way we view food and electricity, the internet should be seen the same.

7:58 – In amongst the coverage and sharing of memes, discussions and mentions of COVID-19 and associated topics (self-isolation etc) have helped to drive a 400% increase in mentions of mental health. Discussions around anxiety have also doubled across Australia and New Zealand from February to March 2020.

9:11 – There is a definite importance to listening at the moment. Context should be provided as people are consuming more news and social media than ever before. Everyone is struggling to juggle their personal hats as well as their work hats.

9:20 – As a communicator, it’s important to audit the bubble of information you’re consuming. Understand the bias you’re consuming and look at other sources you may need to access to get a different point of view.  It’s important to understand the issues and challenges your clients and stakeholders may be facing and to have a general view of the conversations happening around the world.

10:05 – Think about your audiences, read the room, look at how others are communicating. Look at what has been successful as well as the criticisms. Be careful in how you evaluate success in this context and the necessity of your communication.

10:55 – Now is not the time to be doing a splashy campaign, or big broad media communications, as we don’t always default to best practice in times of stress. 

However, it might be the right time to do one piece of media communication really well to the right audience.

Working from home with Bec Brown from The Comms Department

11:48 – We are going through very unusual times and even though working from home and working remotely has been the norm for The Comms Department for the past eight years, there have been many learnings along the way.

13:38 – Although Bec and her team have always been close, the current circumstances have brought the team closer together and have improved relationships with their clients, with the media and with their business partners.

14:11 – Bec shares four tips that are applicable for any working at home situation. These four areas are interconnected and flow together.

14:53 

Manage your productivity

  • Ensure your workspace is set up properly. Set it up as if you were at work.If you had two screens at work, try and replicate the same set up at home. Make your workspace a place where you can efficiently work, don’t let it be in multiple places within your home or let it overrun your household.  
  • Make sure there is structure in your day. Set a start time and end time to your day and lock in touch points to exercise, grab a coffee and eat. Eating lunch away from your desk is also helpful to clear the mind before you sit back down to work.
  • Make sure you work during work hours and limit personal tasks or chores as much as possible otherwise your work life will go into your personal time.

These small tweaks can be included in your day to ensure you are as productive as possible.

20:45

Manage how you communicate

  • Use video calls instead of phone calls where possible. This helps with staying connected and also helps prevent misreading tone. 
  • Decide with your team the best way to check-in. This could be via Slack, Microsoft Teams, text message or even communicating through memes.  
  • Make mute your best friend when on video calls, and keep your calls social and collaborative. 
  • If your job involves brainstorming sessions, continue to do these using virtual functions such as jam boards or murals to achieve the same outcome – it’s still possible to connect and be creative.
  • If there are others working at home with you, use visual cues to let others know when not to bother you. Everybody needs to adopt empathy to get through this challenging time. 

26:32

 Manage teamwork

  • Check-in with your teams, yet have trust they are working. It will be obvious if they aren’t doing their job as the work won’t be done.
  • In a time like this, people are going the extra mile, putting in the extra work when required as opposed to slacking off. 
  • We need to have tolerance for people, support one another and check-in with each other.  
  • Ask your team and your colleagues if they are okay and if there is anything they want to talk about. 

28:18 

Manage your mental health 

  • Do whatever you need to do to keep your mental health at its peak. 
  • Connect with others. 
  • Eat fresh and healthy nutritious food, exercise and make sure you get enough sleep. 
  • Go easy on alcohol at night – it’s a depressive, and probably not the best thing to over-consume as it can mess with productivity and motivation.
  • Following these key areas as well as showing as much empathy as possible during this time will ensure you’re on the right track and a winning outcome.

If you would like to view other Webinar Isentia Conversations: Communicating through Change:

Isentia Conversations: with Katherine Newton from RU OK? 

Isentia Conversations: with Rochelle Courtenay from Share the Dignity

Isentia Conversations: with Rachel Clements at Centre for Corporate Health

Isentia Conversations: with Helen McMurdo at MTV

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In this session we chat to Daniel Flynn, the Co-founder and Managing Director of Thankyou, about producing hand wash in the middle of a pandemic! Daniel talks about staying true to the original ethos of your organisation while working in a crisis and coming through to the other side.

https://youtu.be/sK-4xXgSfzo

11:45 - The view we’re taking at Thankyou; these are interesting and important times. It’s important not to miss the good, the bad and the ugly that comes in a time like this. 

13:57 - We make consumer products and we commit 100% of our profits to water, health, food and sanitation projects. But the secret sauce of success for Thankyou is in the ‘how’. The journey of Thankyou has been a movement of people; the simple idea that if we each combine the little we have in our hands, together we can make a bigger impact.

14:35 - For 5 years, the major supermarkets in Australia had said no to Thankyou. Then one day we launched a video on YouTube and thousands of people began petitioning to the supermarkets. Two helicopter pilots, Peter and Geoff, donated their time to fly signs above the head offices of the two main supermarket chains and in record-breaking time, both said yes. Products hit the shelves, including our hand wash that has since become number one in the category. 

15:47 - Where we find ourselves with COVID-19 is really interesting. For Thankyou, it’s been quite confronting - the whole Thankyou journey rings true as to why we exist as an organisation. We have seen panic buying - resulting in the equivalent of 14 weeks of sales in a 2 week period. There’s even potential for 11 years of profit to happen within 3 months. It’s easy to say, this has been the most profitable period in the history of Thankyou. 

Although the term ‘profit’ can be seen as dirty during these times, we commit 100% of those profits to the world’s poorest, so we have some comfort using the term.

17:20 - It’s a harsh reality that the world’s poorest are those who will pay the most during this time. Although from a sales perspective we’ve achieved tremendous success, we’ve also experienced the toughest supplier chain environment in the history of the organisation. The situation was similar to the wild west - people were undercutting people and purely looking out for themselves. We had componentry issues, and problems with our local and global supply chain. This behaviour encouraged the team to go into a problem solving mode, similar to the first stages of Thankyou as a start-up. 

19:43 - As an organisation and leaders in the community, we need to mentally prepare for the potential length of this situation. We need to start thinking and planning forward. 

In the short term, the internal language should change back to that of a start-up. The rules have changed, the industry has changed, things that were known are now not and we’re all figuring out how to do things differently.

20:52 - At Thankyou we’re staying true to our brand, by continuing to give profits to local and global partners. We’re also leveraging our communities and our social media platforms. As an organisation, we are running with the idea of hope and for Thankyou, that’s a big part of staying true to our brand.

21:43 - Thankyou is a movement by people for people. The current situation has enabled us to go back to our roots and revisit our core values from a cultural, operational and marketing/communications perspective. By taking a look internally, you can reflect and have the courage to try new things. And that's the good that can come from a really tough situation.

22:35 - Our world needs, light, hope and leadership and the world is looking to individuals and organisations to be more creative. Now more than ever, people are forgiving of failures. 

At Thankyou, we are having conversations about coming out on the other side of this, to not be conservative, to try new things and let go of the fear of failure. What does this look like?

It’s a bold concept but that’s where we have found ourselves.

If you would like to view other Webinar Isentia Conversations: Communicating through Change:

Isentia Conversations: with Katherine Newton at RU OK?

Isentia Conversations: with Bec Brown at The Comms Department

Isentia Conversations: with Rochelle Courtenay at Share the Dignity

Isentia Conversations: with Rachel Clements at Centre for Corporate Health

Isentia Conversations: with Helen McMurdo at MTV

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Isentia Conversations with Daniel Flynn from Thankyou.

In this session we chat to Daniel Flynn, the Co-founder and Managing Director of Thankyou, about producing hand wash in the middle of a pandemic! Daniel talks about staying true to the original ethos of your organisation while working in a crisis and coming through to the other side.

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In this week’s Isentia Conversations webinar, we chat to MTV’s Senior Director of Marketing and Communications, Helen McMurdo. Helen shares insights learned from MTV’s global “Alone Together” campaign, and ways of communicating with youth audiences during these times. We also share some of the trends we are seeing across social and traditional media from younger audiences.

https://youtu.be/Dn-iXCwW7To

Isentia’s Ally Garrett talks media trends among youth audiences

4:19 – We know organisations are always keen to understand how to better communicate with younger audiences. In relation to youth audiences, the mainstream media is talking about:

  1. Quality of education and the impact of remote learning – what does this mean for their future? How will it affect school leavers?
  2. Isolation and anxiety – what is the impact of mental health? What are young people’s coping mechanisms during this time?
  3. When will life be normal again? What does the future look like for young people? For everyone

5:44 – Social media platforms are where the majority of youth-focused conversations are taking place, which is normal, there’s just more of it. 

We need to be conscious that younger audiences aren’t always focused on younger content. And we need to be aware of the challenges younger audiences are facing such as reduced employment, remote learning, social isolation and some living environments may not be an ideal place for younger people.

6:30 – On a global level, we are seeing an increase in creativity on social media platforms.  Various TikTok challenges filmed inside a house are a result of this creativity. 

7:04 – It’s important to be aware of content that’s happening outside your bubble – see what other audiences are consuming and what fascinates them.  There is a definitive life-cycle of social media platforms, where younger audiences are the first to adopt, older audiences slowly come on board resulting in the platform becoming mainstream, and then younger audiences tend to leave. TikTok is currently moving through this lifecycle. 

7:38 – Instagram is the only outlier with these trends as it is used for visual content and its ease of shareability. Instagram introduced direct messages (DM’s) at a critical time, allowing people to share memes and content with each other.

10:00 – For better understanding youth audiences, here are some tips:

Follow influencers and see what they are doing and how they are doing it. Now is a great time to explore different platforms to see what is trending.

Be self aware when engaging with younger people, they will see through you quickly. It’s a time where authenticity and genuine content rings true.

Always consider the appropriateness of your communication or presence on apps such as TikTok.

Look at how brands interact with content creators on YouTube and the significance of these platforms with different industries, for example TikTok and music artists or the relationships with video streaming platforms, Twitch and Mixr video games.

Instagram and YouTube can be easier platforms to access to stay across trending personalities and content ideas.

Use different platforms or conduct research to find influential voices and see if there’s a connection you could make.

Helen McMurdo talks being #AloneTogether

13.05 – MTV recently launched its global campaign #AloneTogether. It was created because of alarming observations in the United States of young people not taking social distancing seriously. The campaign focuses on MTV and its audiences being alone together during the COVID-19 crisis.

13:55 – Being a global campaign, MTV Australia was given the option to localise the content for the Australian market. Global messaging included; ‘Slow the spread of COVID-19. Staying home saves lives.’ and ‘If you have symptoms, stay home!’

The messaging was initially thought to be too direct, instructive and heavy handed for the Australian market. It wasn’t until an incident at Bondi Beach, where tens of thousands of people were found not adhering to social distancing rules that the messaging was thought to be well aligned for Australian audiences.

15:10 – Locally, MTV wanted to deliver positive messages, a sense of connection as well as entertainment to their audience. They wanted to understand and support their audience and as young people are uniquely affected by the COVID-19 crisis – with reductions in working hours, possible unemployment and not living in households they have designed themselves – content was created that covered the full spectrum of informing and entertaining.

16:10 – Since the local launch of the campaign in late March, it has reached 1.1million people through organic social activity. Helen and her team picked up some insights along the way:

1. Be responsible even if you’re a youth brand. The #AloneTogether campaign has brought a lot of positive feedback and celebrity talent involved in the campaign happily used their social platforms to deliver the same instructive and direct messaging used by MTV. Some interesting statistics to support this; according to YPulse research, 60% of Generation Z’s and 45% of millennials think messaging that encourages social distancing is appropriate from brands. Interestingly, younger audiences are more likely to respond to instructive or informative messaging than older audiences and 24% of 13-39 year olds say humorous marketing about coronavirus is appropriate during this time.

2. Stay grounded and keep messaging real and authentic. This is more evident now than ever before. MTV is a brand that is built on celebrities and has re-imagined their own programs during this time. In response, they reworked vintage shows such as Cribbs and made it audience centric instead of celebrity centric

3. There’s an appetite for nostalgia – content viewing is up for any streaming organisation, yet since February, MTV have seen a dramatic increase in streaming of vintage throwback content including Laguna Beach (x 2 increase), The Hills (x 4 increase), and Geordie Shore (x 3.5 increase).

21:48 – Extending on this nostalgic theme, MTV implemented a daily live digital show called MTV Recess over a 2 week period. Each day, a different celebrity was interviewed at 10:50am (the traditional recess time) and the host and celebrity would eat throwback snacks such as Roll Ups and Maggi Noodles in their own homes. When  the ‘school bell’ rang they had to return to ‘class’.

Engaging content involving top celebrity talent has been more achievable during these times  because celebrities are home and available and very little preparation was needed to engage and achieve the desired sense of nostalgia.

23:24 – Music is truly having a moment right now. Millennials rate music as their number one coping mechanism to relieve stress. This is above exercise, watching content and talking to friends and family. MTV has seen a huge jump in the consumption of their music television channels across Foxtel, Fetch and Sky. 

Some of these channels include general entertainment (reality TV), however music channels are up 75% year on year which is more than the average media consumption across TV but more than the general entertainment channels.

24:27 – This large increase in music has seen MTV launch an App, ‘MTVUnpluggedAtHome’ where sets from international artists are recorded from their homes and shared. Local artists across Australia and New Zealand will follow suit from May 1.

25:36 – In summary, to effectively communicate with younger audiences, it’s about being responsible even, staying grounded, keeping it real, and embracing music.

If you would like to view other Webinar Isentia Conversations: Communicating through Change:

Isentia Conversations: with Katherine Newton at RU OK?

Isentia Conversations: with Bec Brown at The Comms Department

Isentia Conversations: with Rochelle Courtenay at Share the Dignity

Isentia Conversations: with Rachel Clements at Centre for Corporate Health

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Blog
Isentia Conversations: with Helen McMurdo from MTV

In this week’s Isentia Conversations webinar, we chat to MTV’s Senior Director of Marketing and Communications, Helen McMurdo. Helen shares insights learned from MTV’s global “Alone Together” campaign, and ways of communicating with youth audiences during these times. We also share some of the trends we are seeing across social and traditional media from younger audiences.

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve been talking to experts about the best ways of working and communicating through a time of unprecedented change. 

In this episode, we talk to Rachel Clements, the Director of Psychological Services at the Centre for Corporate Health. Rachel shares some practical tips on how organisations can mitigate psychosocial risks in a time of heightened anxiety - and some advice on maintaining your own mental fitness. Isentia’s Insights Director, Ngaire Crawford also shares some of the trends across social and traditional media.

https://youtu.be/58dIl6BOdys

What mainstream media is saying, with Ngaire Crawford

3:30 - Over the past week, data from mainstream media suggests we’re starting to get a bit restless. Across Australia and New Zealand we’re talking about:

  1. Lockdown restrictions
  2. Business and Economic Impact
  3. When will life be normal again?

Google searches have largely been about restriction levels and what people are and aren’t allowed to do. People are starting to unpack misinformation and search about interesting theories such as 5G towers causing coronavirus.

5:08 - On social media, people continue to reach out and be creative with memes, but there is still an undercurrent of stress and uncertainty.

5.28 - People are starting to shift their mentality from ‘what i need to care about right now’ to ‘ what i need to start caring about in the future’.

People have specifically been worried about:

⇒ Bills/rent/mortgages - specific items that need to be paid.

⇒ Superannuation - the increasing worry is reflective of the long term view - when will this be over?

⇒ Mental Health - still a concern for people

⇒ Job losses - more so about individual bill payments and reduced personal income as opposed to job losses or business strategies.

6:28 - Having context is incredibly important. As communicators, everyone wants to provide genuine and authentic information. It’s important to:

⇒ Understand who you’re communicating to and what they’re feeling.

⇒ Listen. Add additional sources into your information bubble. Look at what’s trending on Google, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. Look at specific hashtags to get an understanding of what people are talking about and are interested in.  

Seek feedback from audiences, but be aware that patience is starting to wane.

Keep curious, consider your own media consumption habits and who you are supporting and why.

Continue to watch what drives emotional responses online such as cancel culture and conspiracy theories, which are usually indicative of wider audience feelings and outrage.

Audiences and businesses are starting to get antsy about normality and what the future looks like - they want to know what will the new normal look like?

Rachel Clements addresses the psychosocial risks during COVID-19

9:08 - Rachel tells us there are many psychosocial risks impacting people around the world in relation to COVID-19. In particular, people are experiencing an emotional journey and a wellbeing journey. She says you need to understand what's happening emotionally with people, so you can tailor communication according to the stage that they’re in.

10:00 - To understand the psychosocial risks for COVID-19, a framework has been developed that outlines its 3 stages.

Stage 1 - we were (and some of us still are) operating in flight or fight, operating in panic, fear and anxiety and not taking in much information. We were just trying to survive.

We were adjusting to working from home, adjusting to new technology and having to do pivots within our business. There was a need to look at the media and be drawn into the fear contaigum. 

People in this stage don’t take in much information, so we have to be careful with how tailored messages were communicated. 

There are many people still in this stage, but there is a shift of people moving into stage 2.

11:15 - Stage 2 - is thought to be more psychologically challenging than stage 1. This is because there is a realisation social isolation and social distancing is our reality and its duration is unknown. Things are unpredictable and this can be mentally tough for people.

11:47 - At the moment, there’s an increase in disengagement, an increase in dissatisfaction, anger, irritability, frustration and languishing - which is akin to depression. If people are sitting in the stage of languishing, they are suddenly feeling unmotivated and not satisfied, a languishing mindset can start to take a toll on their mental wellbeing. 

People are starting to transition into ‘i’m tired’, ‘i’m sick of this’ and begin to break the rules or behave in a way that is opposite to what they are asked to do.

12:22 - Stage 3 -  People start to adjust to the new normal and have a bit of optimism for the future. People begin to become creative again and feel a sense of hope

It’s important to understand the different stages in order to communicate. The success of your communication is based on the stage of a person’s emotional journey and their readiness to take in information.

13:10 - There are some psychosocial risk factors currently seen in our workplace environments:

⇒ Pre-existing mental health conditions. Those who were already in an anxious or depressive state, who’ve been forced into social isolation and self distancing, puts them at risk of exacerbation. Drugs and alcohol are being used as a coping mechanism to deal with the increased fear and anxiety people are feeling. 

⇒ Pre-existing circumstances within our lives such as relationship break-ups, issues with children, financial stressors, don’t stop and people’s capacity and ability to deal with these external stressors have eroded.

⇒ Family dynamics - although our situations have changed, our expectations have not. There are increased feelings of failure, guilt and burn-out as we try to keep up with family life and work life. The inability to change our mindset and expectations to our current circumstance are leading to excessive stress.

⇒ Family and domestic violence - there are increased levels of hostility and an increase in domestic violence during social isolation

17:19 - Employment risks have also increased, some of these include:

⇒ Financial pressure caused by the economic downturn. People are concerned about their job security and their financial position.

⇒ Workload challenges. People are trying to balance their personal life, professional life and their associated workloads. 

⇒ Loss of direction from social isolation. It can also make people feel demotivated and we need to ensure our teams are kept motivated to prevent languishing and dissatisfaction.

18:45 - During these times, people are struggling with their wellbeing. Trends are already being noticed, these include:

Heightened levels of anxiety

Exacerbation of pre-existing mental health conditions

Presentation of new mental health conditions

Increase in social withdrawal

Increase in drug and alcohol use as a coping mechanism

Increase in incidences of intolerance, aggression and conflict. Humans don’t like to be contained and this is why there is an increase in these behaviours. 

Increase in incidences of domestic violence

Increase levels of suicidality

21:05 - Wellbeing needs to be on the radar and there has never been a better time for organisations to communicate and discuss strategies to prevent people’s wellbeing diminishing. These include: 

Equip HR and leaders to lead remotely and equip all employees to work remotely

Identify unique workplace psychosocial stressors - is someone in the team going through a stressful time personally? Is a family member unwell or is someone experiencing a mental health issue?

Maintain connectivity - seeing someone's eyes can be beneficial for feeling connected

Maintain a balance between work and other commitments whilst working remotely

Develop and maintain a ‘new business as usual’ - find new routines and effective ways to work. People respond well to routine.

Supportive and visible leadership

Recognise early warning signs of poor mental health

⇒ Manage anxiety and maintain resilience

Have R U OK? Conversations

Promote employment assistance programs and virtual onsite support

If you would like to view other Webinar Isentia Conversations: Communicating through Change:

Isentia Conversations: with Katherine Newton at RU OK?

Isentia Conversations: with Bec Brown at The Comms Department

Isentia Conversations: with Rochelle Courtenay at Share the Dignity

Isentia Conversations: with Helen McMurdo at MTV

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Isentia Conversations with Rachel Clements from the Centre for Corporate Health

In this episode, we talk to Rachel Clements, the Director of Psychological Services at the Centre for Corporate Health. Rachel shares some practical tips on how organisations can mitigate psychosocial risks in a time of heightened anxiety – and some advice on maintaining your own mental fitness. Isentia’s Insights Director, Ngaire Crawford also shares some of the trends across social and traditional media.

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