As part of our Back to the Future webinar series, the Stagwell Group is hosting a series of monthly webinars, roundtables, and written analysis aimed at connecting leaders in the marketing industry for transformational discussions about what is happening across the business ecosystem.
This December, Alexis Williams, EVP of Marketing, sat down with Erica Swerdlow, CEO of Wyecomm to learn what she is seeing across the communications and marketing landscape.
Q: How have you and your team adapted your products and services to meet the needs of your customers?
Wyecomm’s role with our clients is often about growth. We are tasked with building brands, selling products and services, and recruiting and retaining employees. We are constantly leveraging data to find insights, develop messaging and build strategic plans that integrate across marketing channels to reach target audiences. Over the past few months, we have assembled a larger content development team that includes design, video and podcasting capabilities to offer creative ways to reach these audiences.
In the time of COVID-19 and what has become a rolling recovery by industry and region, Wyecomm has served many of our enterprise clients with enhanced internal communications capabilities to keep employees informed and all stakeholders feeling secure. For example, we currently support a large dental service organization that needs to provide weekly updates to their national footprint of dental offices with up to date COVID-19 guidelines and regulations by county.
Q: How has your team and the way you work changed in response to the pandemic and what changes do you see lasting after the pandemic ends?
As a modern agency, Wyecomm was already well-acclimated to remote work and, as a result, lost no time making the transition on both the business and culture sides when the pandemic shut down our office spaces. Together, Wyecomm’s leadership team and Culture Committee developed programs and a social calendar that kept our team connected, challenged and creative, while accommodating flexible schedules for self-care and supporting our families.
We have encouraged regular exercise by offering weekly team virtual yoga and Pilates classes and allowing internal calls to be done outside while taking a walk. We come together as a team over Zoom multiple times per month, from virtual happy hours and Monday morning coffee chats to weekly all-staff meetings where we discuss not only business updates, but also key issues such as Diversity & Inclusion, the election and other pressing topics. Monthly, our Culture Committee assigns a book, podcast or film we consume and use to facilitate many of our key issue discussions “book club” style.
Wyecomm is a team-centric agency that believes in the power of strong relationships and being connected, which is why we’ve continued to prioritize our company culture despite unexpected challenges these last few months. We plan to continue to offer and expand our flexible work culture into 2021 and beyond, regardless of the pandemic.
Q: Our new reality is knowing how to operate in perpetual crisis mode and companies are increasingly looking to their agencies as a source of credible information. Given this new environment, how do you counsel them to effectively tell their story?
Communications must be at the foundation of unstable and difficult times. We believe in and encourage our clients and employees alike to overcommunicate though planned and ad hoc opportunities. We counsel our clients to provide open and honest communication that includes addressing issues head on, reporting on milestones and celebrating good news.
Q: With trust in the media at an all-time low and the polarization surrounding the news media at an all-time high, how are you leveraging media platforms in new and creative ways?
We use tried and true methods but prioritize the most trusted media platforms that have proven, fact-based reporting and content. Additionally, we leverage our clients’ social media platforms — both corporate accounts and executives’ pages — to tell stories directly to audiences. This includes sharing news from trusted sources along with developing articles that contribute to these sources. With media organizations cutting back on editors and reporters, there are growing opportunities for companies to contribute to media outlets, including podcasts, online news and magazines, blogs and other earned, paid and shared platforms.
Q: With a low public opinion of and mistrust in media, employees are looking to their employers as a trusted source of information. How does your company fulfill this role?
Wyecomm is frequently brought in to help shape the message that our clients’ leadership and/or management want to deliver to its employees. As outside counsel, we provide an unbiased and well-thought-out view for difficult issues and help leadership avoid defensive or opinionated communications. Today, organizations are having to communicate on non-traditional issues affecting society, including social and political issues. The right tone and delivery channel are as important as the right message.
Q: Companies need to earn their reputations over time. Can you provide some advice on how they can protect their brands — make them futureproof? Or is this impossible?
Futureproofing a brand is really about reputation management. Organizations need deliberate attention to respond to issues quickly and honestly, while being true to brand values and aware of what is going on in the external and competitive landscape. No brand behaves perfectly or has a crystal ball for the future, however, resolving issues rapidly and transparently can help protect reputation.
Wyecomm provides sophisticated tools that can help organizations keep on top of trends, competitors and the marketplace, and drive decision-making and communications that protect the brand. We also help companies audit vulnerabilities, scenario plan for potential issues and crises, and develop formal crisis communications plans that supplement existing business continuity plans.