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 Lou Hoffman, president and CEO of The Hoffman Agency, who talks about finding purpose, connection and bliss at home during the pandemic.

Three things I've learned... 

Talk about going through the ultimate state of discombobulation. Covid-19 hits and in the space of 30 days our revenue craters, a government lockdown commences, and no one has a clue how this is going to play out. I’m still trying to get my arms around what I’m about to say, but I gained a renewed sense of purpose and drive from the pandemic. I want to be clear. I’m not trivializing the tragedy and the heartbreak from so many lives lost. Yet, there’s no getting around the fact that for me the circumstances caused what neuroscientists might term an “event.” All of the sudden, rules and norms went out the window. Playbook? There was no “stinking” playbook. It was the perfect time to rethink everything. The experience led me to become a better listener — staff input drove the recasting of our workplace — and ultimately shifted my career back into build mode where I gain the greatest satisfaction.

Our profession rose to the occasion big time. The outside world teases the communications profession — OK, sometimes the verb is harsher than “tease” — for the inordinate emphasis on the squishy side of the business, relationships. Yet, this underpinning paved the way for consultancies to navigate the tough times. People might have been working from the kitchen doubling as a home office, but they made the time for “connection” and to help each other. In speaking to colleagues at other consultancies, this was the common thread and goes a long way toward explaining the 2021 numbers (spend on consultancies) that defy logic. Everyone talks about how the pandemic caused executives to finally recognize communications as a mission-critical endeavor. While true, I come back to “connection” as the foundation.

Immediately after the lockdown, my wife Heather and I managed to carve out a slice of life that was downright blissful. I can’t really say whether the extraneous demands took a pause or my time management skills went to the next level (doubtful). Regardless, simple stuff like a trek to Trader Joe’s became things we both did, fun and even meaningful in a weird way. The difference between a drive and a “field trip.” As another example, we had dinners on our back patio that conjured memories from our stays in Aix en Provence. Fast forwarding to today, I’m reminded that the wonders of family and connection and living call for conscious effort. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate undertaking. Sometimes, it can be as simple as “Hey, let’s head to Trader Joe’s together and see if they finally have Speculoos in stock.”
If you'd like to share your three lessons, please let us know.