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  • Ron Favali

Let's Agree When to Start the New Normal

Heidi Davidson, CEO, Galvanize Worldwide

Kathy Keating, Founder, ProsInComms

Ron Favali, Principal, The Message Garage

There isn’t a marketing, PR, or social media professional who hasn’t completely shredded plans for 2020. The coronavirus has shaken each and every one of us to the core.

Business as usual has rightfully taken a back seat as people shelter in place and limit interactions. Millions of people, many for the first time, are working from home trying to balance work while kids are at home with schools closed. We don’t have to list everything else that is closed or will close in the coming days.

The one question everyone is asking is, “When will it be over?” When can we get back to normal? And what is that new normal?

As marketing and communications professionals, we know that those launches and news announcements and events we previously planned will no longer work. Most would come off as tone-deaf, if not completely insensitive.

We’ve spent the past few days preparing a virtual session on PR and Client Management Strategies in the Wake of Covid-19. In addition to speaking to clients, we also took the time to get input from journalists. Journalists we spoke with specifically mentioned they are being flooded with inappropriate Covid-19 related pitches.

However, everyone, including the journalists we spoke with, wants to get back to normal.

Unfortunately, this isn’t possible. Normal as we know it is gone, forever. We don’t know when anything will reopen. We strive to flatten the curve. The financial markets are in turmoil. Our kids are home for the foreseeable future while we juggle the roles of parent, teacher, and professional. Brands are walking on eggshells, not knowing when they can get back on track and re-engage with clients and prospects.

We don’t know when, but the coronavirus will subside. Stores and schools in China are starting to reopen, and that’s a positive sign. The medical community has rallied not just to care for the sick but also to fast-track testing, potential remedies, and potentially a vaccine. Communities have rallied to support each other. The fractional pieces needed to have a glimmer of hope are starting to form.

As we near the point when things will start to get better, we all need to prepare for the new normal.

For marketing and communications professionals, this means finding ways to communicate brand values and to start to market and sell again. We aren’t advocating for measures that would be deemed unsafe by standards in place right now. Planning events, flying across the country, booking in-person meetings are foolish concepts at this point.

But we all need to agree on when the new normal can start. When is it ok to pitch a non-COVID-19 story without offending? Kick-off a new normal marketing campaign? Talk about the brands we represent and help them generate much-needed revenue.

Based on input from a couple of journalists, we floated an idea on today’s virtual meeting. And it was very well received. We can’t wait for everything to be perfect. We can remain sensitive and sensible. We need to take the time now to prepare for the realities in the new normal. We need to give ourselves permission when we can start doing this. Transition our storytelling for the new normal without fear of retribution.

That time is not today, and we know it’s not tomorrow. But it will happen. We are proposing #BackOnTrack413. We don’t expect life to be perfect on April 13. We may still all be working from home. Schools may still be closed. We have many more bad headlines to come, but we hope we are in a position to help our clients do everything possible to recover by then. The first #BackOnTrack413 stories we tell will take time to develop. We need to start preparing. If marketing and communication professionals rally around this, it will make it easier for all of us to thrive in the new normal.

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