IPRN Snapshots – Webinar

Covid-19 might have forced many changes in our society and habits, but it also created opportunities and possibilities we otherwise might never have thought of. Six IPRN members from five different countries discussed this matter in a thought-provoking webinar presenting and discussing various subject matters of relevance.
Insights from the Finnish construction sector and tourism/hospitality industry
 Mikko Sillanpää of Hakonsalo & Vesa addressed the Finnish construction sector, which is heavily affected by Covid-19, as a considerable number of workers come from Eastern European and Baltic countries. With travel bans decreasing the availability of this work force and Covid-19 lowering the need for work force in this sector, the temporary manpower suppliers for the construction sector have taken a hit: work force suppliers had a market loss of -15%. For Aalto Henkilöstöpalvelut, one of the leading temporary manpower suppliers for the construction sector in Finland, H&V implemented a multi-channel campaign combining own, earned and paid media and as a consequence, the company witnessed a turnover of +7% during the same period, proving that there is always room for growth and success.
Next, Mikko briefly talked about the situation in the Finnish hospitality sector, which was also heavily impacted as the summer is the most important season for this particular sector. Due to travel bans, international tourism during the summer months decreased up to -90% in some areas of the country. Even if the domestic travel had a positive growth, thereby saving the sector, domestic travelers spend considerably less than international travelers. The hospitality industry clearly went through a major shift, mirroring developments in other sectors.
Essential services, i.e. social work, going digital in South Africa
Nicole Capper from South-Africa-based MANGO-OMC presented their work for the South African Association for Social Workers in Private Practice. Over a three-week period, over 700 members converted to counselling via Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp, and social media and their website was broadly utilised to communicate with clients, proving that an organization relying on personal and individual contact and communications could adapt and go digital almost overnight.
Hospice and palliative care organizations also had to fight an uphill battle, as they saw their funding cut. To counter this, they took their fund-raising digital and started garnering support with an app and a series of dedicated webinars to hospices to educate them on digital fundraising, with the collaboration and participation of South African based crowdfunding platform Backabuddy.
Health PR amidst a Public Health Crisis. Insights from the US
Carrie Jones from JPA Health presented the situation in the US, which is facing two major problems: Covid-19 and civil unrest around the BLM movement. Due to these two factors, charities have seen their funding drop significantly. Furthermore, clinical trial programmes were put on hold and major delays were recorded because treating patients in hospitals had become unsafe due to Covid-19.
To counter this trend, JPA Health advised their clients to change three aspects of their strategy: diversify the audience, become more specialised in fundraising techniques and rethink event strategy. Most importantly however, JPA Health advised their clients to communicate with patients directly and to try to reassure them, because PR is after all about relationships and people.
Redefining the work day: determining the value of a real hour in a virtual environment
Ben Brugler from akhia took a different approach by presenting his thoughts on most agencies’ current practices. As Covid-19 continues to impact our daily lives, many have resorted to working from home, which obviously has its upsides and downsides: no commute, less CO2, but also less productivity and the differences between private and work life get blurry.
In light of this, agencies in Ben’s view should focus less on hours spent on a given project or task and more on results, as our work days get less and less regulated.
The impact of COVID-19 on the construction sector in Germany
Lisa Krawczyk shared insights from the German construction sector, which was not hit as badly as others. In fact, companies were not forced to shut down because orders from 2019 were still being processed, and the crisis is affecting the sector with delay.
Therefore, there is an opportunity for companies to establish themselves in other markets, where Covid-19 has had a greater impact. As the second wave now reaches new heights, the situation has to be monitored closely to ensure that the German construction sector does not suffer the same fate as their European and other counterparts.
Insights from the Romanian cultural and real estate sectors
Valeria Tudor from Romania-based agency thehouse presented some insights into the cultural and real estate sectors. Due to instability around local elections and the indecisiveness to take measures against Covid-19, the Romanian cultural sector suffered greatly, as major events had to be cancelled. As for the real estate sector, many people now resort to teleworking, leaving buildings empty and co-working hubs are advertising sales with costs up to 50% lower than before Covid-19. On top of that, banks are now minimizing their credit offers, boding ill for the near to medium future.

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