by Frank Wainwright, editor, FMBE Magazine, director, FMBE Awards
The Covid 19 Pandemic, such an awful thing, has split the FMBE community in a very good way. We’re all doing different things. It is already showing off the versatility and flexibility of our collective skills. This people powered industry will always show its best in a crisis.
There will be plenty I have missed, but here’s what I have seen so far:
- #Feedthenation frontline staff. I doubt there was ever a time when the FMCG field marketing agencies, the stores that they support and the specialist knowledge that they have has been more tested, more stressed or more valued. If anything has taught us that shelf stacking at grocery, stock pull through, and van delivery from warehouses is important to stores and consumers, it is this crisis. FM teams have risen to the challenges, taken the role as a privilege and filled many hard to anticipate gaps.
- Consumer electronics, telecoms and internet teams – FMBE teams first helped to meet a tide of demand for home workers. home school, home entertainment set ups, now using their customer knowledge to advise online stores and their customers and their tech know-how to keep valuable resources flowing into homes. This crisis has proved that the Internet is a utility, not a luxury.
- Hands for hands: As brands adapt so has the distribution army. As brewers and fragrance houses convert to make hand sanitizers, as electronics firms become suppliers to front line NHS staff, as restaurants turn food over to key worker schools, as fashion companies make masks for free distribution, the brand ambassadors are right in there, getting these products into the right hands.
- HR advisers: Self-employed are not always equipped with accounts and process advice. Many staff providers have taken on a new role of accounts counsellors, helping brand ambassadors to understand a rapidly changing landscape of rules and rights.
- Tech-enabled home working. With remote working a norm for FMBE’s brand ambassadors and virtual meetings, conferences and events long established out tech teams and agency suppliers have been busy facilitating the demand to keep going.
- Crew, event construction, logistics, venues – NHS Nightingale, our first major pop up hospital has been built in 9 days using the capabilities and skills of popup event builders. It is an astonishing effort. But it is actually the biggest of many projects. Around the country the pop-up industry is cleaning and warehousing gear ready for the call, whilst venues are also preparing for front line requirements. Media spaces have also been given over to promote NHS support.
- Furloughed sales teams have been amongst the huge national response to NHS volunteering. Those with company cars may be especially useful. Equally, FMBE agencies have been active in the charity sector, helping the homeless and vulnerable.
- Export – brand event teams have been able to lend their expertise to their International colleagues in countries where events are continuing.
- Wellness and wellbeing – from online classes to advice on care and wellbeing many of FMBE multi-talented individuals are providing services to help manage stress, stay healthy and motivated.
- Creatives and planners – some creatives are using the time to model the most effective virtual strategies against a time of a return to the social norms. The role of social influencers is being re-evaluated. The desire for meaningful connection, online and off has never been more intense.
If there is a lot to do in the days of the crisis there will be many challenges ahead for helping people and businesses get back on their feet.
So here we are, adaptability, imagination, resourcefulness… the FMBE world has become quite disparate because we are all these things, and this is precisely why we will come through this crisis reshaped by our experiences and stronger because of it.