Keep creative and carry on: will COVID-19 be a catalyst for change in creative comms?

In the past few weeks there’s been a seismic shift in our collective mindset and a slow realisation that we have to change direction, permanently.

Some of the world’s greatest ideas, inventions and art have come out of times of extreme adversity. Shakespeare likely wrote King Lear, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra in quarantine during the plague: a high bar indeed.

We may not be quite as productive as Shakespeare (yet), but, as well as being in the midst of a crisis, we’re also in the throes of immense innovation, ingenuity and creativity from businesses and people around us.

Balenciaga and Brewdog changed their whole production lines to make the new ‘luxury’ products of surgical masks and hand sanitisers; Balti Bazaar in Stourbridge has been baking and delivering bread to vulnerable local people; Heinz has donated 12 million free breakfasts to children who will miss out on their usual free breakfasts at school and Sainsbury’s (and other supermarkets) created dedicated opening hours for NHS workers.

The true definition of purpose in action.

There’s also a Google doc on Twitter striking off the ‘bad guy’ businesses who aren’t doing the right thing and even exploiting the situation.

Will they recover from such public falls from grace? Or, will they be forgotten as quickly as our self-isolation-induced promises to change our lives once this crisis is over?

This spring-like burst of creativity isn’t just coming from businesses, of course. We’re all finding new ways to adapt in this virtual world.

Book clubs are going online (with wine); children’s birthday parties are happening via Zoom, with carefully choreographed games of virtual pass the parcel (and a lot less mess); and Joe Wicks has become the nation’s PE teacher, star-jumping us through these terrifying times, bless him. Even my mum is getting used to our daily WhatsApp video chats, though I mainly talk to her ear.

In PR we’re used to adapting quickly to changing situations. Our creative flexibility is being put to the test as we try to ‘pivot’ campaigns. Some feel pretty frivolous in the current climate. Will they feel the same once this is all over? Will we attempt to go right back to ‘normal’ life, or will this unparalleled collective experience be the catalyst for change that lasts beyond the lockdown?

Jo Chappel is creative director at Fever

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