Right now, our wonderful community is working from home, with everyone isolated from their work buddies and peers.
We believe that right now we all need all the support we can get. As we find ourselves unable to grab that coffee or glass of wine with peers and discuss how others are navigating this crisis, we are naturally at risk of feeling detached. So, we decided to reach out to some of your peers on your behalf to ask them a few key questions that we felt you all might be interested in. We know that at the moment the most important thing is to remain authentic in who you are and what you offer. What we have always offered is simple: connection.
Despite the fact that this is an unprecedented global crisis and is a foreign and an overwhelming situation for all of us, some of our more senior leaders have experienced global economic challenges in the past, have used the opportunity to adapt, pivot and grow and have remained standing. From chatting with our candidates, it is clear that, unlike some of our more senior folk, our younger practitioners have never been presented with these global challenges in their professional lives.
So, in the spirit of helping those around us and cultivating hope, let’s share, learn and support each other until we’re all back at our desks - guns blazing.
Today we ask Tim Williamson Managing Director APAC Telum Media how he is staying positive, calm and supportive of his team around the region.
What do you feel you have done in your career to date that is now paying off and helping you pivot to working remotely?
Like most of us in comms I’ve had to get used to working on the fly. From being a journalist to running PR agencies – I’ve worked from lots of weird and wonderful locations. In agency you never know when a client emergency is going to strike so you tend to be able to set up in a corner pretty quickly and easily. And then there’s all the late-night and early morning conference calls that you do remotely. What’s great about working at Telum is that we are an Asia-centric business so while we have offices and teams across the region we don’t have time zones to contend with.
While I am used to working from the dining table there’s no doubt that chucking in having the whole family working and schooling from home (and a dog who’s relishing the attention) has taken some getting used to but what is quite nice is how accepting people are of the changing circumstances.
How are you managing your day now and how is it different to your day in the office? What would your advice to managers be to protect a team culture and morale?
I’m trying to keep to my normal routine as much as possible. Going for an early run, breakfast with the kids, even wearing office clothing (within reason). I’m amazed how quickly my two daughters, who are 9 and 7, have settled into a new school routine with e-learning and that’s been really helpful. Somehow it just about works.
Work wise we’re a dispersed team anyway. We have colleagues in Sydney, Melbourne, Jakarta, Singapore, KL, Manila, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and the UK, and we cover a lot of markets so we’re used to working remotely from each other. But using video has definitely stepped up a lot across everything from training to team catch-ups.
A lot of our work involves networking with clients and journalists so we’re doing that on video too and that’s enabling us to engage with the Telum community in new and interesting ways. We’re doing video interviews with editors and senior PR practioners which we’re posting on Telum and on our social channels. We’re doing virtual drinks and networking sessions, even pub quizzes. We’ve also moved our physical events to webinars. Next week we’ve got events with senior editors in Australia and in South-East Asia.
From a team perspective we’re doing regular team Zoom catch-ups. We’ve done dress-up, games, we also have a quiz going called Quizbreaker which is great fun and helps us all get to know our colleagues a bit better. We do a lot on Slack and we’ve set up some fun new channels on that.
What do we each individually need to be doing to help our firms thrive in this climate?
Comms is needed more than ever whether client, employee, media or stakeholder - now is when reputations are won and lost. If you are client facing, you have to love your clients, anticipate what they need, understand their pressures and timeframes. As comms professionals I do think we need to keep an outside perspective. And we all need to adapt to the circumstances as much as possible – which may well mean finding new ways to do things, including engaging with media. For example we have not only stepped up our video and digital content but we’re actively chasing a lot more media requests from journalists who need new angles to cover COVID-19 or equally are looking for stories that are not COVID-19 related.
What are you grateful for?
Being in Singapore, which means we have the digital infrastructure we need to support PR firms and media remotely, and I still think that it’s one of the safest places to be.