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A Message From the CEO: How the Marketing and Communications Community Have Reacted to the Crisis

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A Message From the CEO: How the Marketing and Communications Community Have Reacted to the Crisis

VMA GROUP is working hard to support the marketing and communications community, specifically by facilitating the sharing of ‘best practice’ and creating opportunities for marketing and communications professionals from all sectors. We’re encouraging everyone to come together to support and learn from each other, as we work through these evolving challenges together.

We have created helpful blogs, collated online resources and continue to facilitate a large number of virtual networking events and leadership discussion forums. Please do get involved and join us if you can. The more we share best-practice, the more we all benefit. We encourage everyone to freely share their ideas and experiences to ensure the marketing and communications profession plays its positive role in helping the country, organisations and individuals successfully reach the other side of this global crisis.

We have seen the world of work change in the past few months. Our professional and personal lives have overlapped, and as a result we have had to learn new ways of working. Marketing and communication functions have been impacted significantly and we have seen a major positive shift in how the functions are now perceived. 

Communications has never been more in demand or more valued, and we’re seeing this across all of VMA GROUP’s offices and networks in the UK, mainland Europe and beyond. Corporate Affairs, Communications, Internal Communications and Marketing Directors have been thrust into the spotlight like never before. They are on call 24/7, often with a direct line to the CEO/Board and their advice and counsel is constantly sought.

So many teams were working on crisis communications long before the lockdown began and have been working relentlessly ever since. The difficult balance of getting things right, has meant busy teams are potentially having to over communicate, rather than risk not communicating enough. This relentless pace has been exhausting for so many marketing and communications teams all over the world.

As we face these new-found pressures, mental health must be at the forefront of our thoughts. It’s important that communications and marketing professionals appreciate this is a marathon and not a sprint. Every individual no matter what sector they work in is juggling a new way of life. Sharing our experiences and being more human in our interactions is something that supports positive mental wellbeing.

Marketing and Communications Directors achieve extraordinary things when they are supported by great teams of people around them. Without a healthy, engaged, and motivated team, success becomes a battle for senior leadership. It is important that leaders care for their staff at this difficult time. Anyone that is treated poorly by an employer now, will not forget or forgive.

In addition, organisations may have spent many thousands or even millions of pounds over the last few years building their brands; they have been delivering their mission statements and company values and promoting their social purpose. These efforts, which take so long to build up, can easily crumble if organisations do not act responsibly at this time.

Marketers are currently faced with a difficult challenge in how to promote and sell products and services, without causing offence or damage to their brand. The challenge is that all commercial businesses have to sell to survive, to safeguard jobs. Most of us want life to return to what we knew as “normal”, and that must include companies being able to sell. If the economy is to survive and thrive then we must support our marketers and their commercial companies to do what they do best.

This is also the moment when communications and marketing professionals should have the courage to challenge business leaders to ensure they do the right thing and act responsibly. Now is the time for them to show confidence in what they know to be right and provide the very best counsel and advice to those key leaders that decide how their organisations behave. Even if they don’t heed your advice, you will be reassured that you have said and done the right thing.

There is some recruitment still taking place, in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors and there is a demand for talent across the broad marketing and communications mix, on both a permanent and interim basis. This includes marketing managers, campaign managers, digital marketing professionals, corporate communications, internal communications and employee engagement professionals. And we have found that where recruitment is taking place, salaries are holding at traditional levels.

We had expected the interim and contractor market to increase at this time and the permanent market to slow, but this hasn’t been the case. Both markets have been equally active, albeit at much lower volumes. IR35 regulations have been delayed until 2021 and this will ease the challenge of engaging interim staff more quickly when the need arises.

Recruitment demand is backing up and organisations are stating that recruitment is paused, not cancelled. Market feedback suggests that as lockdown restrictions begin to ease, organisations will continue with their recruitment processes again.

Whilst no-one can predict the future, I do get a strong sense that the demand for communications, marketing and digital will bounce back relatively quickly when restrictions start to ease and there is a greater opportunity for free movement.

The conversation is now beginning to move past crisis messaging and into the future of work and how marketing and communications professionals will need to adapt to support their organisations, employees and customers moving forward.

VMA GROUP remains