STARTING IN A PANDEMIC
September 22nd, 2020
The highly anticipated sequel to our ex-Creative Comms Officer Noa’s blog, ‘Leaving in a Pandemic’, is our new Creative Comms Officer Rachel’s blog, ‘Starting in a Pandemic’.
And in true 2020 style it may not be to plan. It may be a little late, but arguably, we’re still in a pandemic. We’re all still over-using the word ‘unprecedented’. And we’re all still greeting each other with weird elbow bumps and then awkwardly laughing about it afterwards.
I’ve reached the 3-month-milestone at Mindfully Wired, navigating my way through the uncharted waters of Cornish fishing lingo, unidentifiable fish species, and more acronyms than I have time to Google. Just as I feel I’m getting a grip on the complexities of cetaceans, I confuse a porpoise with a dolphin and I’m back to square one. And if there’s one thing that’ll make you feel a tad inept in the aquatic world, it’s working alongside a sprightly group of marine biologists, fishing policy aficionados, and ex-aquarium tour guides. That’ll do it.
But seriously, whilst I might be a newbie to the marine world, I do at least bring something unique to the team. One of MWC’s biggest strengths is the diverse range of skill sets across
the board, and I like to think I contribute to this. I come from a creative advertising background, and in fact, used to introduce my job as ‘communications; the evil kind’ when meeting people at parties. For 3 months now, I’ve relished in the fact my introduction has changed to ‘communications; the good kind’. (Though let’s be honest, there have been no parties, and I’ve had no need to introduce myself, or my job, to anyone.)
Perhaps I’m being too harsh; advertising isn’t exactly evil, but my work until now had consistently left me feeling unfulfilled. To step into a job where I can apply my creativity and strategic thinking garnered from previous experience to a role centred around generating positive change has been the most perfect and refreshing change.
The fact is, advertising and communications are quite different, even though they sound one and the same. There’s a real shift in messaging; ‘buy this’ becomes ‘support this’, and ‘you need this’ becomes ‘you need to read this’.
I started the job in lockdown, from my home in North Devon. For 3 months I talked to my new colleagues via Zooms and Skypes, and made jokes about our non-existent legs. To counter the effects of social isolation, MWC instigated a ‘buddy system’ that paired colleagues on a weekly basis to chat over virtual coffee, cake, or end-of-day-beverage, about something totally non-work-related.
Though it was a brilliant stop-gap for mimicking the office chat we all know and love, I realised that not only was I creating intangible work that only existed in pixels on a screen, but the relationships I’d formed also only existed in pixels on a screen. I was, for some time, convinced I was in a Black Mirror episode; a simulation designed to study my behaviour.
It was at this point I realised something probably needed to be done. I was craving company, office small talk, and spontaneous baked goods, but most of all, I was craving the verification that my colleagues were not just the product of some pretty impressive coding, and that they did indeed have legs.
And so, in the midst of talks of second lockdowns and spiking cases, I moved to a new city to meet my colleagues and occasionally venture into a real-life office. It may be an uncertain time, but looking at 2020 so far, I think that’s a pretty common theme, and there’s no time like the present after all.
I’m writing this now after Week One in not only a new office, but in a whole new city. Now I’m not one for cheesy life quotes but they do say ‘great change never comes from comfort zones’. Whether it’s a subtle shift from one style of marketing to another, or a – here it comes – ‘unprecedented’ seismic realignment, change is an opportunity, not a barrier. For now though, I’m just delighted to discover that I’m not in a simulation, and that the black mirror has well and truly been smashed. So that’s a relief.
Do you agree that theatre and the arts can help to improve people’s understanding of controversial and divisive topics? How would you like to see them brought to life? Let us know in the comments.