Cover photo from “Reinventing Communications in the age of COVID”

Reinventing Communications in the age of COVID

Thought Leadership

This article is part of a 3-part series. You can read Part I here and Part II here.

As the requirement for business and brands in the era of pandemic shifts to nourishing rather than extracting, and optimizing rather than maximizing, what kind of internal qualities are required of the marketing and communications practitioner to succeed?

Nielsen just last week published a number of new consumer and market dynamics we’ll see emerge and become more prominent as we transition out of lockdown into…well, who really knows what? But a vastly different world which we’re starting to see peeks of now.

Their research dovetails nicely with my key arguments in Parts I and II of this series, providing a sector-level view on the macro trends and predictions I outlined.

In short, brands whose traits include “authenticity, trust and empathy” are the order of the day. Until recently, the notion of ‘heart’ has been sidelined in a business world obsessed by the bottom line. But it’s something that we must now integrate into all human systems, business included.

The ideology of endlessly growing, controlling, and ‘winner takes all’ thinking has been launched into the sun with a giant crossbow. In its place, attention to (natural) cycles, optimization, regeneration and being in right relationship to the communities in which you operate are the way forward.

This series is an exercise in sensemaking in our new reality, giving body to the how of a more principled approach to communications as we feel, map and assess our way through it.

It’s also about creating a new web of connections; of people, places and stories capable of weaving these ways of working back into the world. Communities of practice, bringing something new.

While we don’t necessarily know what will happen in the future and act with no blueprint, we can move forward with trust in the spirit and principle of emergence. It’s the idea that we can take many steps together, and that if they’re the best steps we can take, something more beautiful will emerge. It’s about having that conviction and confidence.


Revolution – the real kind – is an inside job. Yep, Gandhi’s sentiment was right. We have to be the change. This is not a click-friendly fact to highlight, because it means that we can’t defer change to someone or something else. We have to do the work.

It’s also worth debunking the myth that you have to be a full-time activist in order to be doing anything for the world. By simply being awake to the fact that we’re part of a community, with people who rely on us and who are impacted by the decisions that we make, we begin to act differently. With best interests in mind.

As members of a human network and ecosystem, we naturally turn to focus on how can we bring as much joy and contentment and satisfaction to our lives and the lives of those connected to us.

In our work and our business, we’re now being asked to nourish rather than extract, and to optimize instead of maximize. And this entails cultivating a new set of values within ourselves.

The best brands are putting audiences first instead of their products and services. That’s a big leap for most operators to make. Yet we’re being compelled in this direction.

There is a strong focus now for brands on helping, supporting, and strengthening relationships. Yet this shouldn’t be interpreted as a call to jump on the bandwagon of “we’re all in this together” messages — this is about authentically serving, authentically creating value, and authentically being selfless. If we are all in this together, the real question is How can I help?

The best brands are putting audiences first instead of their products and services. That’s a big leap for most operators to make. Yet we’re being compelled in this direction.

And as the communications industry evolves to meet the changed circumstances of Business Today, we have to embody the change we want to see. And lead that change too. Our personal consciousness is the essential ingredient.

We’ve chosen to be part of this industry to transmit our unique gifts. We have a platform. We’re here not to manipulate but to assist, serve, heal and empower through our skills as communicators. In the spectrum of roles from writers and managers to strategists and more, daily we bring creativity, fun and alignment into our process, fulfilling both ours – and our audiences’ – deep emotional and psychic needs.

That’s our power as communicators. The maturation of the industry we’re now seeing is about more intentionally stepping into the power of your marketing creativity, magic and expression. Work as a conscious decision. Which is not the same as settling for what’s easy or convenient or safe.

After all, if authenticity is now what’s being demanded of us in the work that we create, we need to be honest about how authentic we’re also being in our process, in our roles, both upstream and down.

Systemic awareness, adaptability, connection and heart will be your greatest assets moving forward. These are cultivated by feeling and intuiting, not by thinking and spreadsheets. In fact, this is where intuition and data meet. The great thing is that it’s easy because it’s about showing up more fully as yourself, and showing up and producing work that is BS free.

And now you. Why are you here?

Play your cards right in this new game, and we all get our own slice of amazing. Image: Lauren Phillips


In Business Today, change requires a deep shift in thinking and behaviour that goes wayyy beyond the transaction or the sale. To stay relevant in the COVID economy, businesses must show what’s at their core, why they do what they do and why it matters. Purpose – more than the bottom line.

Share your integrity, love your audience, and they won’t let algorithms get in their way of finding you or your content. Some followers may fall off as you shift your emphasis, but many more come on board, resonating with your heroic brand spirit and wanting to be part of your world.

Patagonia is a leader in this new age of mindful marketing. Except it’s far more than just lip service or greenwashing for this company; it’s a mindset that encompasses their entire operations. In 2018, Patagonia changed their mission statement to ‘We’re in business to save our home planet.’ Imagine if every brand had a similar goal?

Patagonia doesn’t attract shoppers; they give rise to fans, who buy into a shared value system rather than buy from a brand. And in releasing the need to ‘make the sale,’ they’ve become a billion dollar powerhouse. The money-making (and even their ardent followers) are a byproduct — a delightful surprise — rather than the goal or something the company feels entitled to.

Play your cards right in this new game, and we all get our own slice of amazing.

What feeling does this brand experience or touch point invoke? Is it magnetizing and uplifting or is it just part of the noise and churn?

Many brands are now making genuine and honest shifts and they’ve begun to pull in powerful ways. Among the questions they’re asking are What do my customers need and how can I build it? How can we inspire and fill with wonder? How do our products and services have the capacity to transform and help us achieve insane new possibilities together?

People and planet — the partners in your business community. Operating from a position of heart and mind coherence. That is, where the spreadsheets meet radical integrity. When this equation is balanced, a shared intention like creating prosperity for all or environmental regeneration can be realised.


When done intentionally, communications becomes easy and an extension of yours and a business’ creative heart. It’s an opportunity for focused community building, in deep resonance, based on a match with the right fans or followers. This is the age of sustainable audience building.

Aligning away from ‘I have to’ or ‘I should post’ and feeling into ‘How could I really support our people, our tribe, our family – the hearts on the other side tuning in?’

And asking How can I create value during this exact moment? Not what does it look like, but what feeling does this brand experience or touch point invoke? Is it magnetizing and uplifting or is it just part of the noise and churn?

So that’s not a COVID-19 campaign for the sake of having a COVID-19 campaign. Instead it’s a genuine, topical and timely gift to your audience, sharing unique insights. Or resources and perspectives, or tutorials, guides and wisdom. Stories to connect and relate. Finding the spark that takes us all on an upward spiral. No need to mention products anywhere in there – we know who you are and where to find you. This is Service.

So what wonderful improvements and stunning influences would you love to be basking in by June 2021? Our world won’t be the same by then, but it will be better.

Are you someone whose business needs help negotiating this brave new world? For communications challenges big and small, feel free to get in touch – I’d love to hear from you.