Change or Change: You Choose
Photo By: Toa Heftiba
Four more weeks of quarantine, six more weeks of quarantine, four more weeks of quarantine…
Calendars and math, just like pants and shoes, are now optional.
Here we are. Nearly two months since most of us have shared space IRL, much less the same air, with at least an additional eight-to-twelve weeks of limited interaction on the horizon. It is just about two months since I traded my daily office views of the Hollywood sign for one of trees and nature--neither a bad morning making.
One thing that didn’t change for me (aside from the fact that I still wear dresses everyday) was the volume of daily interactions with people, meetings, and collaborations. If I were to list out everything that I’ve created, launched, or accomplished since we found ourselves in this new normal, sure it’d likely seem like a lot for just eight weeks. However, for me I am more impressed by what others have accomplished than what I’m up to, as for me much of this is what I would’ve done anyhow, maybe more, had this pandemic not occurred--albeit perhaps not as quickly as some of it was driven by need and urgency.
My initial priorities as I’ve mentioned in the past were moving Music Forward to the digital/virtual spaces, while at the same time figuring out how to help in specific areas impacting large parts of our country during this pandemic. Second priorities became our efforts being launched via our Nourish Foundation to help the service industry and other initiatives focused around Gen Z. Now I can move on to my P3s.
In this time, I’ve also been approached by friends, colleagues, and others who have asked for my advice or guidance with projects or ideas. I’m known to be quite selective about what I work on, but I’m always happy to offer input or my perspective. Every now and then I will say yes to helping bring some of those ideas to fruition--these days they tend to be projects that are tied to People, Community, and Planet or causes that I care about furthering. In essence, things that improve the world, add value, or create much-needed dialogue.
Yet, while those are the areas I’m most focused on that doesn’t mean that is what the rest of the world is as well. There is the saying that “Cash is King” and also in the entertainment and digital streaming spaces “Content is King”--both are true now more than ever, but at a time when productions are currently halted, the latter may be more so as it drives the former at the moment.
Obviously, the monetization dilemma is going to continue to be a big driver and also what is perplexing every single industry with the exception of grocery stores, social, and streaming platforms (although not all--primarily Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify, and YouTube who are clear winners during this crisis). Let’s not even get into Zoom, who will have made enough money and rallied enough brand recognition this year that
I wouldn’t be surprised if they jumped into new arenas by the end of this year.
Another strong through-line will be social impact. Consumers are now more than ever, wary of companies with no giving-back element in their ethos and mission. Even Amazon Studios recently had to step up and take some initiative (a little late and nowhere near enough change some might say—I’d agree) in this area.
While the next shows we binge are being sought after, every other aspect of our lives is getting an overhaul whether we realize it or not as companies and individuals work around the clock behind-the-scenes to concoct the magic formula that will allow them stand the test of not only time, but especially the rest of this year and the duration of this pandemic. A make or break time has never been as evident.
However, while that all plays out, in the meantime I can assure you that content and connections will continue to be important as companies continue to optimize for this new world and as the pioneers across all industries prepare to launch new products that cater to each.
If you have ready-to-go content then you are at an advantage at the moment and if it is good content then you should be leveraging that and being creative with your distribution strategy.
One of the companies that had approached me to manage their content and marketing this year was Samsung, in particular for their TV Plus product. Sure, it would’ve been another opportunity to continue to pioneer and evolve not only the way consumers consume content, but also the way our entertainment industry distributes content, but that did not feel aligned to where I currently am as a person. Sure, my work pioneering CBS All Access or even work on DIRECTV NOW would’ve likely made that role a breeze, but going for what’s easy is rarely a factor in my career decisions. After declining this I did leave them with a couple of ideas and I am excited to see what that team does in the SMART TV content space.
Never has a more opportune time for making a connection with your audiences existed. I know the audience acquisition space all-too-well and if you stop and pay attention to even a small percentage of your audience or potential consumers you will know how to proceed. The tools are all there for you to leverage, you just need to actually take the time to use them. If I may be so bold as to observe, that time is likely the currency you all have most of at the moment.
In the area of connections, a second company that also approached me recently was a friend’s start-up as they look to launch a “new” dating app, leveraging a concept incubated during this pandemic. Of course, they’re spot on to predict that many single people may want to pair up after this pandemic is over, just like there will also likely be a baby boom in early 2021. Their approach was also a new and interesting one, however although I was happy to give them some thought-starters on their branding and marketing approach I quickly connected them with another colleague who I felt might be a better thought-partner that also might have more bandwidth than I. Although I know it is 2020, I’ve actually never used a dating app before. I think they’re great and all, and know friends who have made great connections--some even meeting their future spouses. It’s just not my thing, I’ve never even given using one a thought.
However, one of the things that I did recommend to them was to think outside-of-the-box. Instead of just surveying those looking for partners, why not instead be a little unconventional and survey or use out-of-work bartenders as consultants as they have plenty of experience at observing or being an ear to those out in the dating world. I myself am quite private when it comes to relationships and unless my friends own them, I don’t spend too much time in bars and clubs, much less get too deep into my personal life with any bartenders. I spent enough time in music venues and clubs when I used to put on music nights in my early 20s so I have no desire to relive those days. However, I do know many friends who love nothing more than spending some quality time on a barstool in their neighborhood bars chatting away with their favorite bartenders. Some variation of that thought made it into one of my statements around the service industry as a whole for Nourish’s Adopt-A-SIP announcement.
Anyhow, I bring up both of those examples and all of this to say that whether it’s a dating app, a new “album”, tv series, product, or even just a strategy pivot you need to really think of the ways that you can set what you are launching or optimizing apart, while also taking into consideration how this will connect with an audience. A key factor that is more important now than ever before.
Pandemic or no-pandemic, I think we are all in a space where we’re ready to move things forward as our lives may have been turned upside down and temporarily in limbo, yet the world itself is not on a collective pause. People and companies still need to find ways to make a living or sustain staffing. So, as everyone continues to regain their footing, over the next few weeks, I will be sharing more tips around how to navigate the digital and virtual spaces as I know for many of you, this is still a new world.