PRovoke Media 15 Jul 2022 // 11:00AM GMT
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 Katie Huang Shin, president of Big Valley Marketing, who took on new leadership roles twice during the pandemic.
Three things I've learned...
I learned that leadership is not for the faint of heart. Leading effectively has gone from “not easy” to “super hard.” From COVID-19 to social injustice to the return to the office to employee well-being, I was faced with making big and small decisions every day. Sticking to my values and my accountability as a leader got me through some of the most challenging moments in my career.
I also learned I needed to help others make the decision they need to make about their career, even when, in some cases, their choices might create business disruptions for me. This was incredibly challenging as we encountered a level of professional awaking that I had not seen before. Being intentional about leading with compassion and supporting the individual to pursue the life they want has kept me centered amidst the greatest talent movement in more than a decade.
I learned to be surprised by nothing and be ready for everything. The speed and scale of COVID-19 brought profoundly unique challenges which many of us have never experienced before. Value-based and business critical PR differentiated the thriving companies from the struggling companies. I was heartened by a lot of great work done by my healthcare and technology PR colleagues.
However, more work remains. For one, more companies need to understand that “PR” does not stand for “press release.” I have heard this a lot from the early-stage companies, which suggests the need for the rest of us to educate and engage. At the height of the pandemic, many agencies felt the need to take on all businesses to stay afloat. As we transition from the pandemic, we must have the courage to help companies use PR to shape and improve their business.
I have always been an “in the office” person and a road warrior. Yet I had to learn to deliver the same impact and contributions while working from home. There have been challenges: Kicking off a new leadership position in 2020, 37 days after California’s shelter-in-place order, and transitioning to a WeWork set-up in 2022 was uneasy and scary. I was unsure if I could be effective without seeing or “touching” my team and clients. In a matter of only days, I had to transition from working with them in the same room to relying on videoconference as the primary mode of communication.
I held out hope for a return to normalcy. I didn’t set up a home office space until July 2020. When I realized nothing would ever be the same again, the level of discomfort was overwhelming. I had to process my feeling quickly so I could “show up and show out” as a leader and focus on the unprecedented level of stress and anxiety my team and clients were experiencing. I ended up applying my personal experience to help my team, and some clients, transition to videoconference and communicate virtually.
If you'd like to share your three lessons, please let us know.