News | Published April 02 2020

EXCLUSIVE Leading creative media figures discuss how Covid-19 is reshaping their sector

While many industries are struggling in the face of Covid-19 as a result of a reduced or inaccessible workforce, creative content and media organisations across the world have a raft of unique, sector-specific issues to worry about.

Of course, that's not to say they don't face the same problems as other companies -- many creative firms are having to furlough or relocate employees, just as other businesses are, but thanks to the largely digital role of the lion's share of these companies, many have argued that the UK vibrant creative industries have been the least-affected of all across British industry.

That said, the same 21st-century questions of responsible reporting and the role social media plays in our lives have, for some, never been more relevant.

The Parliamentary Review spoke to Russ Lidstone, CEO of The Creative Engagement Group, about how Covid-19 had affected his business.

"As a UK-based global communications and engagement agency," Lidstone said. "We have seen the Covid-19 outbreak affect our business in different ways and with differing levels of significance.

"The impact on our global live meetings and events business has been very significant, with clients pulling activity in the first half of this year. That has the potential to slip into the latter half of 2020.

"At the same time we are, perhaps unsurprisingly, seeing our hybrid and virtual events capability inundated with requests to 'convert' live meetings or exhibitions to an online experience.

"In this arena, we can then create content, manage agendas and deliver content via our event production, digital and film teams.

"Our employee engagement consultancy, digital, film and learning teams are also fairly busy, as companies are seeing that they need to engage and train their workforces while more and more people work remotely.

"It is a challenging time, but the measures announced by the government -- especially regarding the Job Retention Scheme -- are largely welcome."

Indeed, many "live" meetings have had to move to virtual platforms -- and those platforms have, understandably, seen popularity explode in the past few weeks. 

Video conferencing app Zoom is one of the most popular for both businesses and individuals, but it has come under "high-level scrutiny" in recent days as its popularity soars.

Communication has been cited as many business leaders as "essential" as more and more firms make the transition to remote working. Emma Clayton, CEO and Founding Director of independent communications and marketing consultancy Grey Bear Consultancy, explained that it was a volatile time for anyone working in the sector.

"We are seeing our business model change daily, and we have had to amplify our digital communications service as a result, fundamentally changing how we communicate with our audiences.

"We work with lots of pharmaceutical companies, and the positive thing coming from this crisis is that companies are now starting to engage directly with patients, given that all healthcare workers are busy."

When asked about how this changed things for their clients, Clayton expressed that pharma companies were looking for "different ways to engage" with their potential audiences.

"Pharmaceutical companies are now seeking different ways to engage with their key stakeholders, and this has almost taken out the middle-man between treatment providers and the end-user.

"People are being encouraged to undertake social listening, citizen panels and patient engagement programmes that can only serve to better understand patient needs and expectation gaps.

"This then allows them to produce content that is engaging, educational and empathetic."

You can read The Creative Engagement Group and Grey Bear Consultancy's Parliamentary Review articles here and here, respectively.

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The Parliamentary Review

April 02 2020

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