The SPECTRA reputation management conference, hosted by the PRomise Foundation and Reputation Today Magazine, concluded conference with a session by Gail Heimann, President of Weber Shandwick, followed by a conversation with Arun Sudhaman from PRovoke Media. The session opened with Heimann urging us to virtually commit to signing a creative compact, a concept that acted as the overarching theme in her address. After laying out the concept of a creative compact, Heimann then demonstrated the power of crisis for innovation and presented a set of factors to keep in mind for the future.
A creative compact is one that is “a collective agreement to deploy our human intelligence, insight and imagination to solve business and societal problems” as said by Heimann. It is a means of allowing our situation to stimulate creativity to solve issues that have never been experienced before.
Impact of Crisis in the Past and Present
Heimann brings attention to the innovation and advancement that followed the Black Death plague. Due to the loss of so many lives, the plague created a demand for a labour force. The labour force was paid better furthermore creating more equity within the workforce. The Black Death also opened the way for advancement in technology, such as glasses and watches, and medicine. Similarly, Heimann presents a series of advancements that were the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic. Issues such as web conferencing apps and creative advertising were some examples of solutions to dealing with problems. Heimann also highlights the awareness of social issues such as staying healthy and domestic violence during this time of lockdown.
What do The Black Death and the COVID-19 pandemic have in common? They are both crises that cause thousands of deaths in the world, yet mankind was able to use it as an opportunity to grow from. These two crises are an example of how the world was able to look at what people need and wanted, furthermore, they acted as a catalyst for invention and innovation to advance mankind. One observation that Heimann makes is the fact that in both cases we have turned to better technology, and during the time of the recent crisis, technology has become more digitised. We are moving in a direction where the world is becoming dependent on technology.
Goals for the Future
Heimann presents four takeaways that would help us create re-enlightenment as communication professionals.
- Necessity is the mother of invention.
- Ideas will shape the places we experience them, and those places will spawn ideas.
- The marketing community will question traditions.
- The world will make ideas, extraordinary ideas.
Sudhaman brought the topic of brand activism and whether enough was being done. Heimann stressed on the fact that brand activism can always get better, and one of the ways to do that is to make sure the ones that make the decisions look at the audience. Looking towards the future, diversity and inclusion in the higher level should step up and the direction brands need to go to strengthen the communication and reputation of the audience. Heimann stresses the need to invest in diverse talent.
In response to Sudhaman’s question about “what inspires you?” Heimann’s response was to pay attention to what was going on around us. It acted as a good reminder to focusing on and understanding the immediate needs of the people at the time. We need to keep one eye on where we are coming from, and the other on what is happening around us. Furthermore, only then can we create a creative solution and communications strategies to tackle the arising issues.
The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.