I recently completed the self-evaluation on my mid-year performance review. It wasn’t pretty. But it was a perfect reflection of the impact COVID-19 has had on 2020. Especially in my role.
I’m an experiential marketing and events manager in a year where making face-to-face connections just isn’t an option anymore. My goals were oriented around creating memorable experiences that foster lasting relationships with customers. But we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, with travel restrictions, social distancing, and closed venues.
So, that part of the performance review was not stellar.
As an organization, Dynamic Signal is always working to relentlessly innovate not just with our software, but also our culture and the way we work. As soon as it became clear that the safest route for our people was to move to a work-from-home model, we were confident that we would adjust. But that also meant no travel and no events.
Title: Experiential Marketing Manager
Role: Creating experiences that foster lasting relationships with Dynamic Signal
Home: Los Altos, Calif.
And just like that, there was no 10-city roadshow with our partner Microsoft. No DySi ThinkTanks, partner events, or other networking events across the country to connect our community of PR and communication leaders. No Summit by Dynamic Signal conference.
Yet, I’ve found myself just as busy these past six months as I would in the heart of a crazy conference season where quick adjustments and creative solutions are part of the job.
I’ve realized that in many ways, event managers and communication professionals have been honing a skill set that has unintentionally prepared us to manage these overnight changes to how we work more easily. My job has always been, in part, to prepare for the unexpected. Navigating the obstacles that 2020 has thrown our way has not been entirely dissimilar to how it feels on the first day of a conference when one of your booth shipments doesn’t arrive.
Only a much, much larger scale.
If I’m honest, I DID have a few moments of panic. I mean, who needs an experiential marketing manager or an event planner in a year like this?
But the pandemic didn’t change the fact that we still want to give our customers and industry partners the best opportunities to connect and share best practices for running a world-class Employee Communication and Engagement program. That meant creating new digital events and experiences.
As part of my expanded responsibilities, I’ve been supporting our exclusive customer community, DySi Elite. It brings together communication leaders from around the world to connect, learn, and inspire each other. For instance, we keep the Elite community updated on new features coming their way and share the latest research from our industry partners, like Edelman’s Trust Barometer for COVID-19 and United Mind’s The People Imperative. (Which are worth checking out if you haven’t already!)
It has been an amazing experience to help bring communication, HR, IT, and marketing leaders together to learn from each other, share ideas, and push the industry forward to best serve our employees and our communities.
Another piece of the puzzle has been pivoting customer events to a virtual setting.
We had already planned our annual Customer Advisory Board (CAB). But I was suddenly faced with the challenge of turning this two-day, in-person event into a condensed, half-day Zoom event where busy executives still feel engaged and find value in the conversations.
Luckily, Zoom had also been preparing for this moment. Their breakout rooms functionality proved to be invaluable, allowing us to seamlessly shift from larger group sessions into smaller groups where we could ensure our customers were able to ask questions and offer feedback in a very connected environment.
While it probably was the most unconventional event I’ve ever planned, it worked out great. And while we look forward to having face to-face moments with our customers and communities again, it’s been exciting to see the power of experiential touchpoints with our brand in the virtual world.
2020 has definitely been a year of adapting, but what event or experience has ever gone perfectly? Fortunately, I handle change well.
So yes, I’ve accomplished very few of my original goals for 2020. On the other hand, this new creative freedom to design digital experiences that make an impact has opened a new set of exciting possibilities for the way people experience Dynamic Signal. The team has been able to seize this opportunity to show up for our customers.
It’s strange how my year has gone from events to eventful. Of course, I wouldn’t mind if next year was a little less eventful. It would be better – for all of us.
Five Questions with Olivia
What makes your new workplace unique?
I have a Jimmy G. (Garoppolo) bobblehead on my desk. (It’s from the 49ers’ season opener in 2018.) And I have a cat named Dory who snores. Sometimes I need to mute my calls, so people don’t hear her when I’m on Zoom.
What’s your new work attire?
Yoga pants. Fingers crossed that my jeans still fit at the end of this.
What’s the best thing about working from home?
The shorter (or lack of) commute is definitely nice.
What do you miss most about the office?
I just miss being able to lift my head and bounce ideas off coworkers. You lose something when you have to put time on someone’s calendar and set up a Zoom call to talk through ideas. I think we’ve still been very productive, but something is missing when it comes to that element of creativity.
What’s something that keeps you sane?
Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.