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#8 Back in Business

Did you go out yesterday? Super Saturday. It was raining here, so I didn’t bother. Not in the mood for shopping or being in a crowded pub, so I stayed home and made some calls. It’s been a busy week and I had to take my daughter to Heathrow on Tuesday. She’s spending the rest of the summer in Sardinia with her dad so I’m getting used to being on my own again.

A friend made a comment the other day about being an unpaid skivvy and how she’s glad to get back to work (she runs a vegan café and has been doing takeaways). I know how she feels. I’ve enjoyed spending more time with my daughter and having a co-working buddy but it’s been hard work. Lots of shopping, cooking and cleaning on top of my paid work, which women tend to do more of.

I need a break. 

A friend said her neighbours are having an existential crisis about having jobs with no meaning. The pandemic has polarised jobs into two camps: essential and nonessential. We’re celebrating key workers – teachers, doctors, nurses, supermarket staff and delivery drivers because they’re out there doing important (and visible) jobs. It’s easy to feel demoralised and fed up if you’ve been furloughed, are worried about redundancy, or doing less visible work like IT, marketing and social media.

If you’re feeling that way there are some good tips in this piece by The Enterprisers Project.

My work has stepped up lately – it’s all about communications rather than selling. And getting the tone of voice right. One of my clients is a trade organisation so has gone above and beyond to support its members – a new digital platform, blog, webinars, social events, sharing campaigns, advocacy, and doing lots of press.

If you’re not finding value in your paid job, then start a side hustle doing something you enjoy. This newsletter has given me a focus and a weekly deadline. I’ve made some great connections and it’s interesting to see how publishing and journalism are evolving with new online models. More here on how Substack has spawned a new generation of newsletter entrepreneurs. I’ve asked Lauren Razavi (Counterflows) to come and talk to the NUJ on July 13 about making money from email newsletters. She’s also running some great freelance masterclasses this month.

I’ve enjoyed: working remotely, daily jogs, Peleton, reading, podcasts, long chats, cooking, online conferences like Creative Women – stuff I wouldn’t have been able to go to IRL. I’ve been quite productive. Funny how having constraints can make you feel more creative and focused – we have fewer distractions.

I’ve missed: hugs, massages, seeing friends & family, working in cafes, watercooler chat. 

The DMA is running a campaign for Great British Creativity, focusing on the value creativity can bring to UK businesses, so I got in touch and offered to write some copy. Enjoyed this mini-documentary: Madmen v Mavens – on the future of copywriting.  

Interesting chat with Lemur Press in New York about reprinting one of my old books – the fine art of the blow job – yes, it’s still top of the Google search, apparently, 12 years on. I’ve written to my publisher to ask for my rights back and all seems well. Be interesting to see if I earn more from a reprinted version that pays royalties rather than a flat-fee deal. A bit of extra cash would be very welcome.

I’ve also signed up to The Copywriter Underground. My goal is to earn 10k a month. I did it with my last contract, so I can do it again. It’s all about mindset, hey. I’ve been listening to their excellent podcast which has me realise how diverse the industry is and how the title ‘copywriter’ really doesn’t do it justice.

I can’t think of a better word though. Content writer sounds a bit wanky. 

There are so many different kinds of copywriting and lots of opportunities with emerging industries – SaaS, AI, VR, fintech. As we’ve seen over the last few months, brands will always need good copy.

The Links 🔗

Sunak (future PM) considers £500 vouchers for all UK adults to spend in coronavirus-hit firms (and £250 for kids). Tories giving out free money…this is a big shift 😉 Tried and tested in Wuhan, Malta and Taiwan, so why not the UK? Bring it on. 

Why news organisations’ move to capitalise ‘Black’ is a win

Tik Tok launches Tik Tok for Business – a new platform for brands and advertisers.

What the Dutch can teach the world about remote working. “I’m judged on whether I deliver value, not the fact that I sit at a desk for nine hours a day.” Like the idea of having free places to work where you trade a service for a workspace. 

Big Tech may not be afraid of a boycott. But it may fear a regulator

Kanye West declares he will run for US president in 2020. Written in the stars, surely? 

New Marketing 🎧 with Ayo Abbas: Marketing in Times of Crisis – jam-packed with tips, hints and takeaways you can apply to your business right now. 

Emma Gannon’s Ctl Alt Delete 🎧 – #270 Julia Cameron: Creativity, Criticism & The Artist’s Way

The Tip

How to return to a younger version of yourself to create better content. “The easiest person to have empathy with is yourself. And if I’m having empathy with a younger version of myself, then I can create what I think is much better content, because I’m able to understand my customer or my theoretical customer.” Darrell & Stefanie in The Copyblogger 🎧.

Try writing a letter to your teenage self – you’ll be surprised what emotions come up.

The Brand 

Aromatherapy Associates
I’m addicted to Deep Relax, their first and bestselling oil. Add a few drops to the bath or massage in before you shower and breathe deeply… feel those shoulders drop. You’ll smell fabulous all day (or night) and get the best night’s sleep.

Geraldine Howard co-founded the brand in 1985 and started out giving treatments and making products from her small Fulham flat. It went on to become of the UK’s biggest beauty exports with a strong brand story around the healing power of aromatherapy. She died of a rare form of eye cancer in 2016. Here’s to a genuine beauty visionary who said her greatest achievement was “seeing the incredible results that essential oils had both on the quality of the skin and on the way people felt.” 🙏

If you’ve not tried it, you’re in for a treat. 

Email me if there’s anything you’d like me to share in next week’s newsletter – before and after haircut pics welcome!

PS. I have a new logo – what do you think? Bit Mondrian. I’ve gone for primary colours for a change, and it really cheers me up.

Credit to my good friend and colleague, Sheriden Booth, an experienced marketer, photographer and graphic designer. We’ve been working together for the past couple of years, and she has a great eye. If you need some marketing help or a fresh design, I recommend her services. She’s also been looking after three kids and working full time during the lockdown.

👏 👏 👏 to all the supermums (and dads) out there…

Photo: Unsplash

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Blog Business Remote work Tech Wellness Work

Remote working – an end to the office as we know it? 

Office workers have been catapulted into the biggest ever remote working experiment during the global pandemic. How are employees adapting to the new normal of working from home full time – and how can we fine-tune our workstyle to avoid a new phenomenon: Death by Conference Call?

New research reveals productivity, happiness and office culture are booming with the shape of the office set to change forever:

  • Almost 3/4 (71%) of office bosses are pleasantly surprised by team productivity during lockdown despite more than half (54%) being nervous about their teams remote working before the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Over half (52%) say their organisations are MORE productive remote working than in an office – a surprise to almost 3/4 of bosses
  • Nearly 2/3 (58%) of office workers say remote working provides them with more autonomy to do their job in a way that suits them
  • 1/4 (25%) believe they’ll remote work at least half the time after the pandemic is over (compared to 10% before)
  • 70% of business owners and 78% of senior management agree ‘remote working is the future of my organisation’. 34% of business owners are considering moving to an entirely remote office

Nice to have some good news, especially as the lockdown measures (and remote working) look set to continue indefinitely. The study, conducted by Hoxby, a virtual agency and consultancy on the future of work, also found:

Effective Working: 71% of office workers think their employer is well set up for remote working. Almost 2/3 (58%) say remote working provides them with more autonomy to do their job in a way that suits them, rising to 63% of those in a managerial position. Only 19% say they prefer being in an office.

Happiness: 57% of managers think remote working is good for mental health, with only 14% recognising any adverse effects. Two-thirds of office workers agree that though the current situation is challenging in other ways, they are enjoying the fact that remote work means they can spend more time with their family, rising to 72% of those with young children. Only 8% say teams seem unhappy as a result of remote working.

Office culture: Over half (55%) of office managers say office culture is just as strong as ever, with office chat continuing just in a different form. Only 18% of office remote workers have seen any negative impact. 

The future is now
So, will this signal the end of 9-5 office culture? 1/4 of workers think they will remote work at least half the time after the outbreak, compared with just 10% before and 12% of the workforce say they’ll be working entirely remotely after the outbreak, compared to 4% previously.

Before the pandemic, 45% of office workers surveyed were required to be in the office ‘at all times.’ This is expected to fall to just 27%.

How might UK offices change shape?
70% of business owners and 78% of senior management agree that “remote working is the future of my organisation.” The lockdown has led to many reviewing how their businesses are structured. 42% plan to reduce the amount of office space they need. 49% think they’ll encourage more remote working. 34% are considering moving to an entirely remote office.

We still need to fine-tune remote working
48% of office workers admit they’re relying on conference calls too much and would like to learn more about other working practices rising to 63% amongst business leaders. 44% of workers are on conference calls “most of the day”, 54% of those who are managers. Junior team members need more support with set up.

Stuck in the 9-5
It seems we’re stuck in the 9-5 mentality, a throwback from the industrial age. 77% of business leaders expect their teams to work similar hours. Only 12% are trying to buck this trend for their teams, i.e. trying to escape the shackles of presenteeism. 34% of senior managers said remote working was something they wanted to do more of but felt they should be ‘seen’ to be in the office.

Great to see such positive outcomes after just five weeks of lockdown – with no practice run! I hope companies take this on board and rethink how they operate. As the founders of Hoxby, Lizzie & Alex point out, “Changing working practices is about putting people, their lives, their work, their mental health, all of these things centre stage… To avoid the ‘death by conference call phenomenon’ and ‘coat on the back of the chair’ expectations of presenteeism… “Organisations need to keep a watch on remote working practices and evolve and better them by gaining a deeper understanding of technology and virtual leadership.”

It’s time to leave the industrial age behind and adopt digital age working methods to improve diversity, productivity, and wellbeing – happy workers tend to be loyal ones. This shows remote is the future of work and there’s no going back, so it’s just a matter of fine-tuning our methods. It’s is an opportunity for companies to trailblaze with workstyles that are more flexible, more productive, and more enjoyable.

Use this time to get your head around new technologies, build online communities, and do things differently. There are more effective ways of working that may cost less. If it’s working well why would we want to go back to the old way of doing things?

Hoxby has a #RemoteAgainstCoronavirus campaign for a better remote working strategy. I recommend these articles:

Recognise that Remote Working is not the Same as Working from Home

Focus on wellbeing and mental health – The importance of, and practical tips for, looking after your mental health during the crisis.

Don’t be paranoid and start to view success based on output – five rules for leading remote teams.

The importance of building virtual communities and community engagement.

Hoxby’s remote working strategic approach.

Censuswide researched 1,003 office workers currently working through the pandemic between 22/4 – 27/4/20. 

Photo by Georgie Clarke.

 

 

 

 

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Interview: Achim Amann, Black Label, Berlin – “The state has a lot of credibility right now. They decided to help the economy by giving freelancers 5k and small companies up to 15k.”  

Germany has had twice as many diagnoses of Covid-19 but a much lower number of deaths than other countries thanks to mass testing and a fast lockdown. The state has also asked humanities academics to advise on ethical and human approaches to the lockdown. The 26-strong working group – historians, philosophers, and teachers – pulled together this report, working quickly via Zoom. The government of North Rhine-Westphalia, its most populous state, has also enlisted an eclectic mix of experts – businesspeople, telecoms executives, and legal advisors to share their views on the lockdown exit strategy.

I asked Achim Amann, co-founder of Black Label Properties in Berlin, how the pandemic has affected the real estate industry, and what support is available for freelancers & startups in the creative capital.

Germany has had a much lower number of deaths than in other countries. Why do you think this is?
As I see it, the main reasons are the mass testing approach and better organisational skills – one of the strengths of our culture plus a general acceptance of the shutdown measures. We do test a lot of people, but we still need more testing. If one hospital doesn’t have enough capacity, patients are being transported to the next one. Also, our lifestyle is very different from countries like Italy and Spain. We have fewer people per household, and elderly people live in their own apartments. 

What measures have been taken in Berlin for the lockdown? Massive state surveillance or self-responsibility?
The state closed schools, kindergartens, cinemas, and cancelled events. There is less public transport, and people are working from home where possible. They closed down all shops that don’t offer food and drugs, etc. We don’t have massive state surveillance like Austria, and there is a lot of self-responsibility. Most people follow the rules I would say.

Do you think the state has handled the emergency well and fast enough?
Yes and no. Well enough – yes, but not fast enough. Our government wasted time in January and February when we could have done much more. Helping other European countries has only just really started. This should have been done much sooner, for example, with Italy. But since the government made their decisions, we all feel a lot better. The state has a lot of credibility right now. Especially when they decided to help the economy by giving freelancers 5k EUR and small companies up to 15k EUR – that was a sage move that helped to keep people calm and happy. 

How has it affected the real estate industry?
We are fully operational. We have fewer vendors and buyers than last year but a higher quality of leads – there are fewer tourists out there as we say. Business, in general, is very good in our industry. We have decided that everyone should work from home if they don’t need to be in the office physically. We have implemented Zoom in our team meetings. We wear masks to do viewings and practice social distancing. With legal appointments, we make sure there’s enough space between the parties. We have cut costs on portal marketing and invested more into our own website and marketing team instead. The only real negative we can see is the lower speed of banks financing our clients. But they are still financing them, and we’re getting deals closed and exchanged.

What has the government done to support Berlin’s fast-growing startup scene?
They have given 5k EUR to one-man shows and up to 15k EUR to small businesses. This is generous plus tax reliefs and other advantages such as the government will cover up to 80% of employees’ salaries so the company is only paying 20%. It’s a very fair deal and much better than firing people.

Were you prepared for this – will it change how you operate?
Yes and no. We have a strong business and reasonable cash reserves. No, as we’ve invested a lot into new marketing on social media and Google. We wouldn’t have spent as much on a third party. We haven’t laid anyone off, but we have cut costs on two freelancers. So far, we are safe. We reacted very fast in January as our Chinese Sales team told us what was coming. So, we had an extra two months to get prepared.

Do you think China should offer some kind of financial compensation to other countries?
There is no point in finding a scapegoat. Actually, the Chinese are now bringing a lot of business to Europe. They are investing a lot in the German economy as well as in property. To start trade wars as the Trump government has doesn’t help.

www.blacklabel-properties.com 

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Corona Diaries: Government Package for the Self-employed – are you happy with it?

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, has just announced outline details of the rescue package for the self-employed.

Here’s a summary of the key points from Daniel Barnett Employment Law:

  • a newly self-employed income support scheme will pay self-employed people a taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly income, capped at £2,500pm
  • income will be calculated by taking the average income over the last three years
  • self-employed people can claim these grants and continue to do business (so, it’s not the same as furlough leave, where employees have to remain at home)
  • the scheme is open to anyone with trading profits of up to £50k (this covers 95% of self-employed people). Self-employed people who earn more will not qualify
  • the scheme is only open to those who make the majority of income from self-employment; if you are employed but have a ‘side job’ which is self-employed, you will not be eligible
  • the scheme is only open to those who have submitted a tax return for 2019 (to minimise fraud). However, those who did not submit their tax return by the due date of 31 January 2020, and have not yet submitted one, can still submit a tax return for 2019 within a further four weeks from today
  • there are no steps to take. HMRC will contact eligible self-employed people directly and pay the grant straight into their bank account after inviting them to fill out an online form
  • the self-employed income support scheme will be open to people across the UK for at least three months. However, the scheme is unlikely to be up and running before the end of June, so it will not help with immediate cash flow issues

Seems like a fair and generous package in line with what’s being offered to employees, but not all freelancers will be eligible.

Initial thoughts from my NUJ colleagues:

“I’ve just watched Sunak’s briefing, and am relatively pleased with what has been announced. It doesn’t go far enough to help those at the bottom of the freelance earnings scale, but the timescale for payments notwithstanding, by large it seems fair and reasonable.

Sunak claims that the scheme will benefit “95%” of the self-employed and stated clearly that the remaining 5% are those with profits of over 50K/year who won’t be ineligible for the income support grant. But what about those who, say, became self-employed in the last tax year, and have savings? They cannot claim Universal Credit. Sunak’s 95:5% ratio cannot be correct, and I suspect a significant number of self-employed will suffer.” Dr Francis Sedgemore, Chair, NUJ Freelance Industrial Council

“Sky News reported that only a third of freelancers could be eligible, something to do with them paying comparatively less tax.

Ltd companies are apparently not eligible, those who already received top-ups from Universal Credit, moved to UC from existing benefits like Working Tax Credits, (I know of several freelancers in this position) not eligible.

Twitter is already full of a lot of people who became self-employed since the beginning of the last year tax year who are ineligible, there seem to be a lot of these around, possibly a higher number than anyone imagined.

The money will be with freelancers by the beginning of June, backdated, but what are freelancers supposed to do until then?

Those who earn very slightly more in employment than in self-employment in the last tax year are also ineligible.” Matt Salusbury, NUJ London Freelance Branch Chair, Deputy Editor, The Freelance

“It’s certainly more complex than the headline leads us to believe. I’ve seen a lot of people express concern that that due to starting freelancing recently or having time out for caring/illness that they will miss out on this package.

Some photographers will have high overheads for studio/office rent, equipment lease fees, insurances and software.” Dr Natasha Hirst, Photographer, Freelance Industrial Council  

NUJ statement here.

And from Caroline Norbury, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation and Creative England:

“We are seeking urgent clarity for those creative workers who may be most in need and fall between these schemes including those who commenced self- employment after April 2019, recent graduates, those paid in dividends, temporary workers and those short-term contractors normally paid by PAYE. We must ensure that these packages are truly comprehensive and accessible to all.”

Lots of chat about this on Twitter – the main concern seems to be that nothing will be paid until June. What do people do until then? Can you apply for Universal Credit to tide you over? What if you’re above the savings threshold? Newly registered as self-employed? Or a contractor or a sole director/small limited company like me – and therefore not eligible? Not all sole directors are like Boris’ mates!

I asked my accountant Elaine Clark for advice and she sent me this post. Martin Lewis is on the case finding out about sole traders who are a Ltd company and whether they can get help through the Government package. In the meantime, let’s keep making noise on Twitter.

Send your questions/comments to @NUJOfficial @NUJ_LFB @Bectu @Creative_Fed @EquityUK @CarolineNorbury @TracyBrabinMP @IPSEWestminster @RishiSunak and tag me @niccitalbot.

It’s Friday. It’s spring – don’t forget the clocks go forward. Enjoy the sunshine and have a relaxing weekend.  

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Enjoy reading this?

Clear messaging (& tone of voice) is crucial at all times – not just during coronavirus!

If you need a little help with your marketing activity in the coming weeks – get in touch today. Nicci@niccitalbot.com.

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Corona Diaries: Getting Tested in the UK

Europe is now the centre of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re facing the most significant public health crisis for a generation. So far, there have been 35 deaths in the UK with an estimated 10,000 or more people infected. Since coming to stay a few weeks ago, my mum has been ill. A few days ago, she was up all night with a temperature, hot skin, shoulder pain, a dry cough. “It’s not your average cold,” she said. “It feels slightly alien to anything I am used to. I’ve had a persistent headache for weeks, and my tinnitus is going through the roof”. Concerned that she might have coronavirus, she called the NHS 111 helpline.

Because of her age, pre-existing health conditions (she has CLL and a heart murmur), she was told to go to A&E immediately, so my brother cancelled a couple of jobs to drive her over. When they got there at 7 am, “it was eerie, totally deserted. Just rows of empty chairs.” Not what you’d expect to see in an ordinarily busy A&E. A nurse checked her over and told her she has an ‘upper respiratory tract infection’. 

“I said “look, could this be coronavirus? She said, ‘well, it could be – I can’t say it’s not, but it’s probably just a severe cold.’

“I said, ‘well, don’t you do any tests?’ she said ‘no’. She said ‘we just tell you to self-isolate now.’ Worryingly, the nurse hadn’t heard of her health condition either. My mother had to spell it out and explain what it is (a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells). She didn’t have a temperature as she’d been taking paracetamol, so didn’t meet the ‘criteria for testing’, which is ridiculous given she was sent to A&E in the first place. She told to self-isolate for seven days and to call 111 again if her symptoms didn’t improve and tell them she might have the virus.

So, my mum’s left in limbo. “I’m waiting: is it going to get better, is it going to get worse?”. My mum is in the vulnerable group and has a right to be tested for coronavirus – as do we all. The government promised an additional 10,000 tests a couple of days ago, so, it’s frustrating to see the U-turn from testing everyone to ‘high-risk groups’ only, i.e. in hospital with breathing problems. After we’d spoken, I called the A&E department to find out what’s going on but was told they couldn’t answer questions about coronavirus testing and that I had to call 111 for further information. I did and was kept on hold for half an hour and eventually gave up. If this is my experience of calling 111, it will be many other people’s too.

I called the local press to tell them about my mum’s experience. The Nottingham Post interviewed us. I spoke to BBC Radio Nottingham this morning about the importance of mass testing. People are being advised NOT to go to their local GP or pharmacy if they have any symptoms of the virus, and to call 111 instead. But what are you supposed to do if you can’t get through? Or in my mum’s case if you’re sent to hospital, not tested and told to self-isolate for a week? If the government is going to announce virus isolation for the over-70s for up to four months, there needs to be a proper plan of action and more funding for social care. Who will visit them and bring supplies if they live alone? My mother doesn’t do online shopping and banking. “No way would I be imprisoned in my own home for four bloody months staring at the walls waiting for Deliveroo to drop off a food parcel outside. People who live alone will commit suicide without the physical or mental benefit of going for daily walks or to shops and the library.”

The UK’s strategy is to delay the peak of the virus or “squash this sombrero” as Boris so eloquently puts it so that we don’t overwhelm the NHS (years of Tory cuts and austerity have run it down to the ground, so you reap what you sow). The idea of letting 60% of the population contract the virus to develop “herd immunity” to protect the most vulnerable is reckless. This means potentially 36 million people will need to be infected with the virus, with around 2 million seriously ill and 330 people requiring a critical care bed. It would cripple the NHS and could lead to thousands of deaths. Also worrying to hear from a contact working in the NHS that they have been buying lots of body bags… are we anticipating a large number of deaths?!

200 scientists have written an open letter to the government asking for stricter measures. They say the current proposals are “insufficient” and “additional and more restrictive measures,” i.e. social distancing should be taken immediately as has happened in other countries. We seem to be the only country in Europe following a “laissez-faire” attitude towards coronavirus, with our “keep calm and carry on” approach. South Korea’s approach is “being open, transparent, and keeping people informed,” says their foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha. They are testing 20,000 people a day and monitoring them afterwards via an app. Their goal is to detect it early to prevent spreading, and so far, it seems to be working. Their view is that mass testing is vital so they know how many people have been infected to tailor medical care and monitor them in the future.

Good to see that Democrat Katie Porter has succeeded in getting the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention chief to agree to free coronavirus testing for all Americans. UK government take note!

Labour MP Lisa Nandy is calling for a Public Health England (PHE) information campaign, “not just a gif telling us to ‘wash our hands'”. The government is due to publish its scientific modelling this Thursday, and as of today, there will be daily press briefings.

It has now become a political issue says Robert Colville in The Sunday Times: Delayers v Containers: the new political divide. It’s worrying to hear medical experts arguing about the best approach to tackle the pandemic. I agree with former PM Gordon Brown who says we need to work together to tackle this rather than being nationalistic. Get heads together to come up with a vaccine, pronto!

My mother would be happy to pay for a private test. “I have a right to know whether I’ve had it for my medical history and peace of mind. It affects how I live my life going forward. If I’ve had it, then I have some immunity, so I’ll feel less anxious about going out. If I haven’t, then I know I need to be careful and take precautions.” I agree. My daughter and I have been ill recently, and I have rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic health condition which means my immune system is compromised so I also need to know. I saw my consultant last week who advised me to stay home. So, what are the options if you can’t get tested on the NHS?

This Harley Street clinic is offering private coronavirus testing for £375 after being inundated by people wanting to be tested. Channel 4 News reported that a rapid self-testing kit is set for UK release this week (they’ve already sent 50,000 to South Korea). But if you’re not supposed to go the pharmacy if you have any symptoms, how do you get it? Can you order it online and how much does it cost?

I went for a walk to Bexhill yesterday, which was surreal. You can feel the fear and anxiety. People are apprehensive about what’s going to happen over the coming weeks as the virus peaks here. People are giving each other a wide berth and there’s not much eye contact. My daughter saw a whole family wearing masks at the station. Most of the conversations are about coronavirus.

“The only way we can stop it is to not visit her.”

“Did you see the shops in Eastbourne? Totally empty. It’s like a ghost town.”

The M&S Café in Bexhill was deserted (it’s normally packed with older folk having tea). All the makeup and perfume tester kits have been removed from the shelves which makes sense, but it looks so strange and impersonal. There was no loo roll or pasta in my local ASDA as people panic-buy. Don’t do it! There’s enough for everyone – think about the people who can’t afford to panic buy.  

This is a war on a virus, and it brings out the best and worst in people. It’s upsetting to hear about racism against the Chinese and Italians. Fewer visits to Chinese takeaways. Last week a boy in my daughter’s class said: “Are we making pizza because it’s Italian and they have coronavirus?” The teacher put him straight.

But also great to see people pulling together. I love little drawings by Italian kids under quarantine, hashtag #TuttoAndraBene, #EverythingsGonnaBeOkay? And these videos of Italians singing to their neighbours – this Turin opera singer gave hers a treat. In the UK, we have postcard campaigns to encourage people to check in on their elderly neighbours, #ViralKindness #HowCanIHelp. It shouldn’t take a national crisis for this to happen but here we are.

#AndraTuttoBene #EverythingWillBeOkay

We may be spending a lot of time at home over the coming months, so it’s an opportunity to slow down, think about how we live, and make some changes. Do we need to travel so much and buy more stuff? We can shop local, work from home if possible, and do more in our communities. I’m keeping a corona diary. I really hope this is the beginning of a new way of living with more tolerance and time for each other and more cohesive leadership. We need better international cooperation with governments around the world working together to solve problems and create change.

I’ll let you know if we manage to get hold of a self-testing kit and what the outcome is. I’d be interested to hear your experiences too – email me on nicci@niccitalbot.com.

  • Staying Home Club – the running list of what in tech has been affected by COVID-19 and what social distancing policies have been enacted by 238 companies
  • Last month, China rolled out an app for people to test if they’ve been in ‘close contact’ with people exposed to the coronavirus. It shares data with the police. (this is in the pipeline for the UK although if its success depends on widespread testing I can’t see how can it work here) 

Send her your feedback so she can put together a dossier for the government on self-employment and coronavirus: Tracy.brabin.mp@parliament.uk

  • Labour MP Lisa Nandy on how to campaign during a pandemic. She says we should be using video conferencing to carry on the Brexit negotiations. Her team have launched an app for her leadership campaign, which has been adapted for the coronavirus with virtual Q&As. “The Nandwagon will continue to roll on. We have three weeks,” she told Andrew Marr 
  • Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now. A fascinating article by Tomas Pueyo, which has been widely shared online. I’m not sure about his scientific credentials – he’s a Silicon Valley tech executive, but it’s interesting data, and he’s a passionate speaker. Watch the debate on the Channel 4 News coronavirus special
  • Who Gives a Crap? Eco-friendly toilet roll delivered to your door… they’ve been completely wiped out – back in stock soon

Enjoy reading this?

Clear messaging (& tone of voice) is crucial at all times – not just during coronavirus!

If you need a little help with your marketing activity in the coming weeks – get in touch today. Nicci@niccitalbot.com.