For almost two years we have been living in a time of uncertainty. When we locked down in March 2020, we thought it would be for about six weeks. That didn’t happen. As we adjusted to the need to mask and socially distance, we made decisions about how we would conduct our business, who we would be with and where we would go. As summer 2020 approached it appeared we could be safe outdoors as long as we kept our distance. Then there was the fall 2020 surge and we all retreated. Vaccines looked like our salvation and for a brief period of time we once again ventured out. For those of us working virtually, we started talking about a return to the office, movies, concerts, sports and theater. Then there was the Delta variant and those who refused to vaccinate and it seemed we were back to square one. With booster shots available, vaccines for kids five to twelve on the horizon and case rates falling, we’re once again optimistic but remain a little wary.
In March 2020 we worried about a toilet paper shortage, today, with supply chains in disarray, we’re concerned about anything with a chip in it, not to mention the availability of holiday gifts. Even with the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports committed to working 24/7, the backup is so severe it won’t be solved for another year, partially because there aren’t enough truck drivers. And everything is starting to cost more.
Although many were excited to return to work, they are no longer content to put up with poor working conditions and inadequate wages which is starting to result in strikes and work stoppages. Then there is the “great resignation,” which is also causing staffing shortages. You might call it uncertainty by choice.
As agency publicists, we are accustomed to living with uncertainty. We rely on our clients to keep us in the loop and don’t have a final say on how the media will cover a story. However, open communication, strategy and creativity do make a difference. Understanding what you can and can’t control is critical and it is important to understand what the goal is. Simone Biles is a great example. Instead of jeopardizing her health when confronted with the “twisties,” she stepped away from Olympics competition and then focused on what she could accomplish, which garnered her a Bronze medal and all of us a greater appreciation for mental wellbeing because she was so open.
When we were all locked down, work productivity was higher because we had no place to go. Now that we’re venturing out, we’re trying to do the same amount of work coupled with travel time for in person meetings. Once again we’re in a period of changing workflow. It’s stretching everyone out. Because the media we deal with are also overwhelmed, it takes more time and work to secure results. Moving forward it will be even more important to set priorities and achieve clarity on what we’re trying to accomplish for clients and staff alike.
Going back is not an option. Uncertainty will continue to be a factor we will all have to contend with, mitigated by the use of strategy and creativity. We need to embrace and become excited about it because it will only make us stronger.