How companies innovated to thrive during lockdown

Who would have thought that the year 2020 would have seen such a dramatic introduction to the new decade? Empty supermarket shelves and people scrambling for the last bottle of hand sanitiser were scenes that became all too familiar.

Adjusting to the new norm, web-based technology has been the saving grace that has kept people connected. During a time when physical contact has been limited and social gatherings prohibited, social media and video conferencing apps have been the solutions to help everyone stay connected.

Businesses and brands have also had to think of creative approaches to engage with their customers and provide high-quality services in new ways when they cannot meet or engage customers, prospects, or stakeholders as normal. It’s no surprise that for both personal and professional usage, Zoom has become a lifeline.  Last December the video conferencing platform had 10m users and by March 2020 this grew exponentially to 200m.

Zoom has become an important tool for our work at brookscomm to maintain both internal and external communication. We’ve been onboarding new clients, running workshops and providing digital PR and digital marketing training via Zoom, as well as the usual progress meetings with our clients.

With lockdown measures now beginning to ease, we would like to share with you some of our favourite ways that brands have innovated to keep their business thriving during lockdown:

Brightening lockdown days

Daydreaming of a spring break or summer holiday that never happened due to the pandemic was common for most people. Holiday rentals website Airbnb offered free downloadable images of its stunning spaces and idyllic location to soothe the pain of being stuck indoors. Burger King also played its role in encouraging people to stay at home by making its delivery app into a social distancing device that tracked a user’s location using the geolocation function. With their consent, users that stayed at home were rewarded with prizes such as snacks and vouchers for free combos.

Home workout boss

It is safe to say Joe Wicks is the king of home workouts now. Eager to encourage school children to exercise, the body coach was scheduled for a nationwide school tour before the pandemic hit and decided to switch to daily workout routines on YouTube. Over 13 weeks, Joe Wicks amassed over 70 million views and smashed the world record for largest workout live-stream. With all gyms closed across the country, local gyms offered online classes as an alternative to get people active.

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Fitness trainer innovates with huddle camera

Online PT sessions that either need two instructors or include a lot of different activities may be tricky to show on an ordinary webcam, which hindered many fitness trainers looking to deliver classes via video call. We’ve seen Surrey-based personal training company Marek’s Fitness overcome this by using an innovative wide-angle digital camera from AVer Europe for his fitness classes so that he and his partner could showcase a range of movements to a full class without having to squeeze into the shot. The camera allowed the class experience to be as close to the real thing as possible for Marek’s Fitness customers, and as a result, the company’s business has thrived during lockdown.

Immersive virtual reality

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With the global pandemic disrupting the summer mosh pits, most festivals and outdoor gatherings have been cancelled or postponed till next year. It was, therefore, a welcome surprise for fans to see that Wireless festival was not only going ahead virtually as Wireless Connect but also in collaboration with virtual reality platform MelodyVR to make the experience more interactive. Wireless streamed the ticketed festival on Facebook Live YouTube and made performances available in 360​° immersive virtual reality on smartphones and VR headsets.

The return of football

After a long hiatus, sports are finally back on screen. The Premier League returned mid-June but with empty stadiums due to government safety guidelines, the industry had to find a solution to regain excitement, atmosphere, and energy. Sky Sports partnered with EA Sports FIFA to add artificial crowd noise to the match broadcasts, which is controlled by a virtual audio director who can alter the intensity of roars, claps, and chants with one tap of a finger. The show – or in this case the game – must go on, and this innovative approach has brought the beautiful game back to life.

A new way of life

Agility and flexibility have been the name of the game for businesses worldwide, who have been making quick changes in these unprecedented times for the good of society and their customers. Technology has continued to connect us, helping us to maintain the human connection which is fundamental to our daily lives. It has fostered personal and business communities behind screens.

Before the pandemic, it was common to hear about the negative effects technology may have on individuals and people were encouraged to limit their time on social media. While many of us would agree that moderation is key, it’s clear that with creative thinking, agility and flexibility, brands have been able to use technology to maintain relationships with consumers and thrive during these unprecedented times.

 

When average is awesome

AWB Gig Review Ronnie Scotts LondonAs if I don’t write enough at brookscomm I have taken up a hobby of writing music gig reviews.

My latest one appeared online yesterday: Review of Average White Band at Ronnie Scotts

This one was a particularly special night, I am lucky enough to know one of the band members, and he kindly invited us to the gig. And that’s BEFORE he knew I would write a review!

AVERAGE WHITE BAND, RONNIE SCOTT’S, LONDON 14/07/16

Let’s go round again. The good times rolled at Ronnie’s as an expanded and rejuvenated average white band had the punters on their feet ….

The walk on music to which the Average White Band took the stage was “Let The Good Times Roll” by Ray Charles. And the good times certainly did roll.

The two original AWB members, Alan Gorrie and Onnie McIntyre have rejuvenated the band, recently enlarging the group from a five-piece to a seven-piece outfit. The sound is bigger and funkier, with additions Rob Aries on keyboards and Cliff Lyons on alto sax joining the uber cool Fred “Freddy V” Vigor on tenor sax and the accomplished Rocky Bryant on drums. The line-up is completed by the super talented Brent Carter on vocals.

The founding duo were in fine form, relaxed and in good humour with Gorrie excelling on vocals and bass. Kicking off with “I Just Can’t Give You Up” McIntryre, the much-imitated driving rhythm force behind the band’s distinctive style, hit the groove immediately, providing the heartbeat of the band. Gorrie said the group was going to get through “as much history as we can” and that’s precisely what the audience had come to see — a big slice of soul history.

Classic after classic ensued. Standout tracks included “A Love Of Your Own”, Cliff Lyons with an inspired alto sax solo, the Bobby Womack-inspired “When Will You Be Mine” and “Atlantic Avenue” both from the “Feel No Fret” album.

The very much not Average White Band is alive and kicking. The secret of the group’s longevity is McIntyre and Gorrie surrounding themselves with quality musicians, faithfully reproducing the classic AWB sound, but with room for individuality and improvisation.

Halfway through the gig and “Work To Do” brought half the audience to its feet. By the encore of “Let’s Go Round Again” and “Pick Up The Pieces” virtually all were up and grooving with arms in the air. As one Ronnie’s regular remarked on leaving “I’ve never see Ronnie’s rock like that before”.

AWB Gig Review Ronnie Scotts

AWB Gig Review Chaz Brooks

 

Diary of a PR newbie

Joe RamseyI’m currently studying for a career in Marketing and recently spent some time with the team at brookscomm team to learn about what goes on at a busy PR and Marketing agency. Here’s my account:

Wednesday 27/08/2016

On arrival at brookscomm I was greeted by the team, they instantly made me feel welcome and comfortable amongst them. I was firstly taken for an introduction chat where Mandy gave me an overview on PR and the objectives of the business. This was very helpful as it meant I was able to get some background on the company I was working for. After Mandy had finished, Jo then took over and spoke in more detail about how the office is run, she also informed me of the tasks I would be carrying out.

Digital marketing

Mike was next to approach me, he specialises in digital marketing which is one of my personal interests. He took me through various slideshows on personas and how PR is properly used for B2B. I found this very informative and beneficial. Mike is a very good communicator and is able to give you the relevant information whilst making you think and analyse for yourself.

The other member of the team is Ali who I worked with later in the day.

My first task was to do some research into blood doping for one of the clients, this was very difficult due to the variances in this subject however I was helped by Mike who was able to direct me correctly.

Team work

A team meeting was then called, the whole team gathered to discuss the position of their clients and their objectives for the coming days. I sat in on this session, it gave me an insight into how a PR businesses makes decisions and handles its clients. This meeting was positive throughout and each member of the team looked for my input which made me feel comfortable and able to contribute where appropriate.
After lunch I went back to work with Mike on the new website design. I analysed the website and then did similar for competitors, this exercise allowed brookscomm to get a new opinion on its website and what may be beneficial to change or maintain.

I concluded the day by working with Ali. She walked me though the process of getting a press release published, she also outlined the benefits of doing this for both the brand involved and brookscomm. She involved me in the process which was fantastic as I was able to see the theory behind it then get involved in the practical element of the press release, this gave me the tools to write my own press release.

Thursday 28/07/16

My day started by drafting a press release on one of Brookscomm’s clients. I did some research into the product, made some notes, and looked at similar products and their press releases. This research allowed me to have an in depth knowledge of the product and then write a press release. This took me the whole of the morning to complete. After lunch I sat down with Chaz Brooks who gave me feedback on my work, He was able to point out what was done well and how I would improve next time. This was helpful because I was able to see which aspects of my work needed altering.

Using Social Media

My next task was to compose some specific tweets about the business re-branding. Mandy sat down with me and communicated what she wanted to see being tweeted. This was a relatively simple task for me as I am a keen user of Twitter and other social media. The only thing I struggled with on this task is using appropriate language to reach my target audience.

Summary

Overall my experience with brookscomm was brilliant, they offer a highly professional working environment whilst making all the staff welcome and comfortable. brookscomm is an open forum for new and existing ideas to be considered and implemented. Everyone that works for brookscomm is clearly very well trained and believe in what they are working for, this means their personal and business goals complement each other and become easily reached through hard work. I am very thankful to be given the opportunity to work for brookscomm and its staff, I believe I have learnt skills and techniques that will benefit me immediately and later in life.

I’d like to thank Mandy, Chaz and all the staff for welcoming me into their work environment and sharing their knowledge with me.

Best wishes,

Joe Ramsey

Season’s Greetings

We wish everyone peace and happiness at this special time of year, and send you every best wish for 2015.

This year we have not produced a Christmas card but we have made a donation to the charity Action Duchenne which is a condition affecting Leon, the son of Louise and James, our friends from Holy Trinity School in Guildford, Surrey.

Louise says:

“In January this year we received the devastating news that Leon, our now 4 year old has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This is a serious condition that causes progressive muscle weakness, generally by the age of 8 boys are struggling to walk and a wheelchair is required between 10 and 14. It is life shortening – most boys with this condition only live into their 20’s and suffer from heart or respiratory failure.

Medical advancements are moving at speed (but not fast enough) and we believe that in the future the devastating effects of Duchenne will be reduced with new drugs and treatments. Several are currently on the horizon and undergoing medical trials. Leon is young enough and has a short window of time and opportunity for these new drugs and treatments to be licensed and used to help him and other boys before they get too old and damage takes hold.”

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Kind regards

Chaz, Olivia, Mandy and Alison