After more than 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 installment in our series, we hear from Spool founder and CEO Catherine Merritt who shares her lessons learned.

Three things I've learned... 

My first job was when I was in 8th grade as the shampoo girl at a local beauty salon (who catered to a circuit of lovely ladies who came in each week to get their hair set). The biggest lesson I learned then still matters today: create meaningful connections with people. Spool is coming up on its fourth anniversary and when I founded it, I was (and still am) committed to creating the leading people-first agency in the world. When I say “people-first” I include our people as much as our clients within that. Everyone at Spool understands the importance of bringing their authentic selves to work and why it matters for the connections we make and the work we do. It allows us to work in a truly empathetic way, it allows us to fully trust one another, and it pushes us to work with our clients in a more meaningful and engaged way. Spool’s growth has been 100% through organic word-of-mouth and referrals from past and current clients. My career has spanned various industries, companies and agencies, but I remain in touch with people at every chapter throughout my career (even at the beauty salon where I worked when I was in middle school). 


The agency world is in the midst of a massive shakeup and I am excited to see how our industry pans out over the next coming years. At Spool, we have a deep entrepreneurial mindset approach to our work with clients, many of which are high-growth companies and brands who don’t want traditional PR agencies but work with Spool because we understand many facets and layers to their businesses. One of the ways we cultivate this mindset is by being active investors and brand-builders, which allows our people front-row seats to understand how the VC and investment space operates and the impact that has on our clients (whether they’re raising or not). Our industry is evolving and to keep up, we can’t simply focus on block and tackle PR but we need to understand the very real challenges and opportunities our clients face and be proactive with ideas and solutions that push their business forward. 


Listen, the past few years have been hard. Anyone who knows me likely knows that I lost my mom in June of 2020 and working through that grief amidst the pandemic and all the challenges that came with it (remote learning for my kids, helping clients through brutal business climate, etc.) is something I am still processing. But here’s the thing. I’ve learned that by being authentic, vulnerable and addressing these challenges, it’s not easy but it allows us to get through to the other side. I always say: “hard things are hard” and when we can accept that and endure the hard things, we’re also open to the growth that comes with it. Since my mom died, there are countless moments when I’ve made decisions through the lens of: “how would she have done it?” and it’s made me and Spool better from it. I’m not suggesting that we jump on the toxic positivity bandwagon, but life is always going to dole out its share of hard, sad, uncomfortable situations and as we endure and process them, it’s important to reflect on what’s changed as we end up on the other side. 


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