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What it’s like to run a PR agency during a pandemic

Chaotic. Noisy. Crowded. But also very honest.
FOCUS. (Ada Slivinski)

The other morning I was keying up a press release and my four year old daughter ran over screaming because her sister was chasing her with a dried worm.

I had to physically block them both from landing on my keyboard and sending a spew of gibberish to most of the province’s media.

That same day, my husband burst in on a video call, his own phone to his ear needing the password to an old iPhone we were using to keep our youngest entertained while the rest of us all had simultaneous virtual meetings.

Running a public relations agency from home while trying to juggle two small kids at the same time is hard.

Prior to the pandemic, my kids had little understanding of what I do for work. They saw the fun things, like events and talks, but were convinced for the longest time that I worked at a tea shop because occasionally I brought home treats after client meetings.

Now, when they wander over in search of a snack and I’m editing a media list, they ask questions. It’s opened their eyes to what an actual workday looks like. I don’t know if it’s newfound respect or fear of angry mom voice, but they have figured out very quickly how not to interrupt my calls.

It’s a really strange feeling to be running a business almost entirely from your couch. Because of the quarantine, I’ve gotten to know my clients and team members on a different level. With the sterility of a boardroom and real work clothes are taken away, we’re looking into each others’ living rooms. You quickly learn much more about their kids, pets, hobbies, and fears.

One of my favourite clients once told me that all business is just human connection – that’s it.  We sometimes try to sweep that away, and just show the glossy side of business. That simple yet profound advice has never rang more true than today.

The threat of COVID-19 to our health and impact on business has dominated most of the headlines, and rightly so. But I’ve come to believe the intimate reality going on in each home is a story that will have just as lasting impact. By boiling down our lives to just what’s essential, we see the importance of human connection and “realness”  in our family lives – and yes, in business, too.

Ada Slivinski is the Founder & Principal of Jam PR, a boutique agency focused on helping small businesses get big exposure. You can reach her at [email protected]