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How Adapting to COVID-19 Made Us Stronger

As we approach the one year mark, working as a creative agency in the era of COVID-19, we’re taking stock of the lessons we’ve learned along the way. See, so much of our time is spent collaborating – gathering on set, meeting to strategize, and huddling around monitors. But, working as a dispersed team came pretty naturally. Our offices already spanned three states, so leaning into Zoom, Figma, and Google Drive covered most of our bases.

But coordinating video shoots created an unexplored frontier of challenges for our production team. In short order, they developed AICP compliant protocols – including health screenings, on-set testing, distancing, and PPE. Each was meticulously applied when selecting locations, accommodations, travel arrangements, and crew/talent/food&bev vendors. A monumental accomplishment that they are continually improving through careful scrutiny and refinement.

The lessons learned along the way have been tremendously valuable. Here are the big takeaways that have influenced our greater, company-wide culture:

PREPARATION

The production team learned quickly that building extra prep-time into schedules was vital, but doing so actually uncovered efficiencies in the long run. We try to create environments on set that foster creativity and allow for flexibility. So over the last year, we’ve had to renew our focus on the details that make that possible. By buttoning up our planning process, we’ve smoothed out the friction points that can make even pre-COVID sets chaotic.

Here is the takeaway – Preparation requires anticipation. Leverage your expertise and understanding to forecast the issues that siphon valuable creative time. For us, that means being diligent about discovery and making sure to dial in our…

DOCUMENTATION

We give a hell of a pitch, but the real key to stakeholder buy-in is documentation. We’re talking scripts, contracts, shot lists, NDAs, etc. Dialing in paperwork isn’t the sexiest thing we do for sure, but it is the ultimate measure of accountability. See, when you’re on one of our sets, your health and livelihood is our highest priority. Ensuring that is worth the necessary documentation.

Here is the takeaway – Documentation keeps you accountable. For us, that means noting internal progress with notes on Basecamp, being transparent with our clients about our process, and always prioritizing…

COMMUNICATION

This is the big one. COVID-19 has made it harder to communicate effectively. That doesn’t mean there are fewer ways to communicate. Between Basecamp, Slack, email, and text we’re easy to get ahold of. But being dispersed does create friction that doesn’t exist in-person. Being deliberate about over-communicating and opting for a phone or Zoom call over a typed message is the best weapon against miscommunication.

Here is the takeaway – Ideas aren’t meant to be shared in a short text or email. If you’re presenting, collaborating, or even disagreeing, don’t waste your time or energy on any other medium.

Last year lead to dozens of successful shoots. Some of our favorites were an energy round-table in Texas, a political ad in Iowa, and – believe it or not – a spot we created in our Atlanta office using Zoom.

Above all else over this past year, we’ve focused on gratitude. Gratitude not just for clients who endeavor to persevere through difficult times, but for a team that never shies away from a challenge. As we approach another year of uncertainty, we’re grateful for the lessons this season has taught us. Adapting to COVID-19 has only made us stronger.