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 Nontokozo Madonsela, chief marketing officer and head of brand and communications at South African insurance giant Momentum Metropolitan Holdings – and one of our Influence 100 in 2021 – who says over the past two years it has been crucial to "keep the vibe optimistic" at work and to create space at home to "pause the chaos".

Three things I've learned... 

The last two years have shown me that the true leaders need to be able to show up for their teams even with distance between them. This was easy for me because I am energised by the conversations I have with my teams (including agencies). The calls, WhatsApp messages and one-on-one coffees delivered impact. I constantly looked for ways for the team to feel like I was just a call away. Preserving our high-energy team culture was crucial and ensured that we keep the vibe optimistic and looking forward to the next day. The human need to be connected has grown so much because Covid forced us into isolated existence and threw health anxiety into our everyday movements.

PR: We should not get tired of our own ideas, especially the ones that work. I often say to the team: sports tournaments happen year after year and fans never get sick of the experiences. Another example of this is TV soaps and series – they grow from season one to season seven or 10, and viewers don’t get tired (unless the writers mess up...) The question, then, is why do marketers feel the need to start from a clean page every year? If the human truth holds and the business need is still the same, we need to refine and apply fresh but consistent thinking.

Personal: Music and walks bring so much joy to me and my family. We have dealt with so much pain and abnormality. As a parent I have been intentional about creating a space filled with calmness and fun at home. We dance, cook, go for walks, picnic – anything that pauses the chaos going on in the world for a minute helps to manage how we all feel. I have been reminded that how I feel about myself is not locked into the title I hold professionally, and that work continues without me. So when I am home I put my devices away so I can fill my cup and give my brain a break. This works well – combined with a good whisky or wine!

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