If we are indeed heading into a recession, and if the world is ‘changed forever’ as some are predicting, it will take bold leadership, critical thinking, and adaptability to solve tough problems and to succeed in that new world.”

Currently based in Bonn, Germany, Rebecca Rosenberg is a writer, content strategist, and perpetual adventurer. She develops creative marketing plans and copy for modern brands who want to stand out, reach more people, and share their value. 

How is what you do related to content and communication?

My company is 100% focused around content and communication. As a marketing consultant and content strategist, I help B2B and B2C companies hone their messaging and develop content campaigns to reach different target audiences.

How has the lockdown impacted your industry and your clients’ industry?

In my business, I work with service professionals in a wide variety of industries ranging from market research and accounting to wealth management, higher education and SaaS. While some of them are pumping the breaks or exercising caution, some are experiencing little change, and others are seeing the crisis as an opportunity. 

For example, I’ve seen companies who provide corporate learning tools and workshops see great success in shifting from in-person workshops to online workshops or courses. Instead of putting everything on hold, they invested extra resources into developing and quickly launching a more robust offering of online courses, which resulted in a huge boost in sales.

How has your work and daily life changed since the onset of the crisis?

My business has always been conducted remotely. I’m based in Germany but work primarily with clients from my home country of the U.S. Zoom calls, Slack and lots of emails are nothing new to me and I have many clients whom I’ve never met in person. 

In the past, I would often travel while working. Recently, though, I’ve left my semi-nomadic life behind for a strictly work-from-home setup. I’m now sharing my home office with my partner, which is definitely an adjustment. On the downside, he types surprisingly loudly! On the upside, we can take a break in the middle of the day to do an online aerobics class together. That’s always good for a laugh!

How has the crisis affected the role of marketing, content and communications in Europe and beyond? 

Here in Germany, I think the COVID-19 crisis has sped up the process of digitalization when it comes to communicating and conducting business online. People and companies here are very concerned with data protection and tend to err on the side of caution, which is a hurdle to doing business online. However, this crisis has created an incentive to adopt change quickly and become more open to trying new things. 

I’m suddenly seeing more businesses encourage contactless (i.e. credit card or online) payment and promoting their online stores. In a country where cash-only small businesses are still a common thing, this definitely feels like progress. There is also a strong message of solidarity from B2C companies – “Stay home! Stay safe!” has become a more important message than pushing their products, at least for the time being.

In Germany as well as around the world, COVID-19 has pushed the adoption of remote work forward in a major way. As businesses are forced to take workplace communication online, more companies are seeing that remote work is a viable option. As a location-independent business owner and passionate remote work advocate, I hope that trend will continue after the crisis.  

How are you focusing your clients’ content and marketing efforts for the coming months ahead?

I’ll give you a few examples. One of my clients provides remote bookkeeping, financial reporting and CFO services to small and medium enterprises. Given all of the economic uncertainty in the U.S. we’ve been focusing on developing content to help businesses budget in tough times, navigate the process of applying for SBA loans, find other assistance available to small businesses, and keep abreast of changing deadlines and policies. In this case, it’s about going above and beyond and positioning the brand as an expert resource.

On the other hand, SaaS and tech companies I work with are investing more into marketing, as they see an opportunity to sell more online subscriptions or courses. There is an underlying message of inspiring people to innovate and invest in personal or professional development that will benefit them during and after the crisis. 

Particularly in the U.S., I’ve seen some brands encouraging people to take this “reset time” to build new skills, consider new careers or even take the leap into entrepreneurship. If we are indeed heading into a recession, and if the world is “changed forever” as some are predicting, it will take bold leadership, critical thinking, and adaptability to solve tough problems and to succeed in that new world. 

What are three professional takeaways that you’ll carry with you after all this? 

  • Your marketing goes beyond your product or service. It’s about who you are as a brand and how you can find ways to be useful to your audience.
  • Sometimes it takes a major crisis to change the status quo.
  • Nothing lasts forever, so stay humble and stay nimble. 

Nothing lasts forever, so stay humble and stay nimble.

What are some personal takeaways? 

When I’m having a rough day, I try to keep things in perspective. Don’t forget that immigrants, refugees, and other marginalized populations have it way, way worse than the rest of us. 

What advice do you have for others in your industry to get through these times even stronger?

For brands, as well as for anyone who’s managing a team, be proactive with your communication. The ones that aren’t afraid to address the elephant in the room will win big in terms of trust and loyalty. The question on every employee’s mind is “What is the future of my job?” – whether that has to do with salary, layoff, furlough, or just knowing when they will be back in the office – and how safe will that be? 

Managers should be as proactive as possible with keeping employees in the loop, while at the same time promoting open communication and empathy. They need to understand that people have new distractions at home – they may be suddenly sharing their workspace with partners or caring for kids or elders. Availability, productivity and even mental health are in flux and that has to be ok. 

From a brand standpoint, it’s not enough to just send a generic email that says “We’re here for you in these trying times.” While some brands have kept quiet in an effort to curb cancellations and changes, and others aim to truly be helpful. In Europe, for example, Eurowings has done a great job of proactively sharing updates to their flight schedules, as well as cancellation and change policies via email and social media. On the flip side, United Airlines has been bashed for making multiple changes to their refund guidelines (all of which made it tougher for customers to get their money back). 

Second, diversify your income. When one of my bigger clients opted to pause our contract due to the crisis, it was scary. By quickly refocusing my efforts, I was able to keep my numbers on track thanks to having a diverse client base and multiple income streams. Full-time employees don’t have that advantage. I’m extremely grateful. 

Connect with Rebecca Rosenberg on LinkedIn and check out her website