By Laura Riggs
The pandemic upended everything about our daily lives, from how we learn to how we shop; how we dine to how we work; and how we communicate and receive information to how we think about the world. As consumer demand inundated the supply chain, a labor force flush with stimulus cash contracted. Businesses and organizations fundamentally changed their operational models to adapt to this increasingly complex marketplace. With more consumers getting information from their digital devices than ever, many companies have been forced to make a digital transformation long embraced by larger brands.
Recently, leaders from marketing and communications agencies around Jacksonville gathered for our first in-person roundtable in over two years to discuss the impact of this latest wave of the pandemic on their clients and their businesses. “Our agency grew 92 percent during the pandemic,” says Mary Fisher, co-CEO and partner of Fisher Agency. “With supply chain adjustments, our clients are focused on updating their websites for better SEO [search engine optimization].”
Adam Berry, director of digital marketing at Wingard, agrees, “we have become adept at creating websites that are more reactive to supply chain adjustments. Our clients need to be able to quickly turn products on or off depending on availability.” What used to take several weeks to update must now be adjusted within a matter of days or hours. “We have rewritten clients’ entire websites to accommodate pricing fluctuations in real-time,” Fisher explains.
“The Cummer Museum had entire exhibits delayed these past few years due to the lack of resources available to move art from one part of the world to another,” Natalie DeYoung, director of communications and public relations at Wingard says. “Helping their teams manage the domino effect was an interesting experience.” Susan M. Masucci, president and CEO of Ruckus, agrees, “Our clients in real estate development have probably been affected the most this past year. When materials aren’t available, you can’t build houses. We turned the focus to marketing a community and the totality of where people live.”
Like many of their clients, agencies have also felt the pinch from labor shortages and have found creative ways to adapt. Gone are the days of a fully staffed, vibrant office environment. “As the cost of living increases, more people want to work remotely,” Berry attests. “I can fit more into a day working from home because I don’t have to commute between the office, the house, and client meetings.” Erin Gordon, co-CEO and partner of Fisher Agency, adds, “it also means I’m in meetings at least 20 hours a week.” Everyone in the group recognizes that you have to love agency life to thrive. DeYoung admits, “There is no work-life balance in marketing.”