As was the case for the entire world both personally and professionally, March 2020 threw an unpredictable curveball that forced the global community to change the way they worked, thought, and communicated. Within our industry, the last 12 months has been a period of reactive marketing campaigns, quick-thinking creatives and adapting businesses. It’s forced us to adjust both how we communicate with clients and how we operate in line with a different type of demand in an entirely digital world.
At Projector, as with many other businesses around the world, the last 12 months for us have been busy as we’ve navigated our way through the pandemic and come to understand the effect it’s had both on us and our clients. In this time a lot has changed. So, to mark this change on the anniversary of the day we began working from home, we’re looking back at the last 12 months at Projector – reviewing how it played out for us and the lessons we learnt along the way.
Start of the national lockdown
Quarter 1 of 2020 was set to be another successful period for Projector as we celebrated our 17th year in business in high spirits – continuing the legacy of the previous year by maintaining strong relationships with our core clients and welcoming some new prospective projects and partnerships onboard.
Then, as news of Italy’s national lockdown in early March reached the UK, our attention became reserved for updates and advice from our own Government on the nation’s next steps. This arrived on the 23rd of March when the UK went into lockdown and we packed up our computers and closed the doors to the studio for (unbeknown to us at the time) 5 long months.
As a team of creatives accustomed to bouncing ideas off one another day-to-day, we had to adapt the way we carried out everyday tasks to this new, completely virtual way of working. After a short period of adjustment, we came out the other side – sharing thoughts, feedback and ideas in a new way that worked for us and our clients.
With a global focus on the digital sphere, we used this opportunity to support those of our clients who were forced to close during this period – redesigning online platforms and refocusing creative output to target audiences in a new way. From entire website designs to new marketing material that aimed to keep their virtual presence alive, we worked to support those of our clients who felt the harshest impacts first, the most.
In stark comparison but equally importantly, some of our clients were fortunate enough to be in a position where their products and services were in increasing demand as a result of the national lockdown. As such, our strategic approach quickly altered in line with a faster-paced demand for creative output that would help get our clients’ immediate message across efficiently.
During this time, we came to understand the true value of the relationships we’d built with our clients and suppliers. We watched through our computer screens as our clients switched to working in their garden sheds, created make-shift recording studios out of tents for podcasts, and converted their lofts into home offices away from the homeschooling.
We got to know them a little better and learned that maintaining this sort of contact would be crucial when looking to help both our clients and ourselves remain resilient throughout the pandemic, even if this was as simple as a catch up call, an ‘I hope you’re ok’ email, or a frozen-frame Zoom call – staying connected and present would help us support each other through this tough time.
The start of a hopeful summer
The second half of the year began with the steady reopening of society. As part of this, this meant preparing for when our hospitality clients would be allowed to reopen, continuing to support them throughout the UK’s summer staycation boom to produce supporting material that would help drive record bookings.
Come August, and following the Government’s instruction that we could begin to return to work, we came back to the studio prepared for a new way of working, ready to tackle the summer rush just in time for acquiring another hotel client. To further support this, we hired 3 new team members in 3 different areas to ensure Projector was well-equipped to continue the second half of the year as a well-rounded creative agency.
A worrying winter season strikes
Following a summer of optimism, our approach remained pragmatic and measured as we witnessed the introduction of a UK-wide tier system set to combat the new rise in coronavirus cases.
Knowing all too well how this had played out previously, we continued to practice one of our key takeaways from the first period of lockdown and kept in regular contact with our clients – ensuring our quality of service remained consistent and reliable. As a result, we were able to advise on creative output early on in a bid to reduce the impact that the threat of a second wave posed on our clients – where relevant, building this into existing strategies to protect our clients’ brands.
As a nation’s fears were realised and we rang in the new year with a new period of lockdown restrictions, this time at least, we were more prepared. We began 2021 at our dining room desks, ready to speak with our similarly home-based clients about what quarter 1 would entail – continuing to carry out a confident ‘business as usual’ approach to the benefit of those we worked with and for.
It’s safe to say that the last 12 months didn’t turn out the way any of us expected. However, we did learn a few valuable lessons along the way.
Firstly, we saw the benefits of our previous brand work come to light as our clients remained in strong positions to tackle the impacts of the changing markets. Secondly, we learnt how important our team spirit and communications with our clients and each other was in helping us continue to produce thoughtful output throughout the toughest of times. And finally, we came to understand and celebrate the creative sector – seeing the value that quick, creative thinking has had on helping businesses navigate through the pandemic in all industries.
It goes without saying that we couldn’t have navigated our way through the last 12 months without the constant, unwavering support from our clients, suppliers and partners who, throughout it all, remained available and in close contact with us – acting as a great source of relief during the toughest of times. They continue to do so and, for this amongst the rest, we thank them. Now, with a glimmer of light at the end of what has been a long and complicated tunnel, we continue to prioritise the above three lessons as we look forward to a different road ahead.