After two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be hard to quantify the ways in which we have changed. Our pandemic coverage helps us understand the industry impact, and it seems unlikely that any of our content has been untouched by the unique circumstances that have taken root since the start of 2020.

But so much of that change has occurred at a human level, where many of the lessons emerge from the various conversations and anecdotes that underpin our stories and events. To better showcase these learnings, and provide a measure of insight into how the global PR industry is responding to such a transformative era, this series asks people what they have learned, according to three specific areas.

In the latest instalment in our series, we hear from Kate Stevens, president of Europe at WPP's specialist technology agency AxiCom.

Three things I've learned... 

I learnt the importance of personal relationships. It was an isolating time for everyone, not least for me, taking over leadership of the agency across Europe. I needed personal relationships as much as others. I was acutely aware of how angry I felt at those who just wanted to be transactional. Being more personal helped the distance and separation seem less obvious; for the team, for clients and also prospects and partners. This approach naturally sits well with me and helped me quickly form a real sense of belonging in my leadership style.

Keeping it real. The polarised opinions across media, the hype, the bland whitewashing brand statements all become noise. I realised the depth of our industry challenge to truly cut through, have a voice and make an impact with all this guff around us. Trust felt (and still feels) very precarious. We need to have that at the heart of our strategies and counsel to ensure it cuts through with a very real tone. We must be more human than ever before, more honest and more real no matter who it’s on behalf of or who it’s aimed at.  

You cannot pour from an empty cup. I had a five-year-old and an eight-year-old in ‘home-school’, a husband facing redundancy, I was covering an in-house role for a client and had just taken on leading an entire organisation all grieving [after the sudden death of European CEO Henry Brake]. Taking time for myself became essential. I’d run, flicking a switch in my head to just let it all percolate. I’d use that time to reset my perspective and create an energy that I would be selfish with, holding onto it and letting it nourish me right up until that moment when I had to let someone else have it.

If you'd like to share your three lessons, please let us know.