It’s hard to think that just a little over a month ago the concept of the entire world being confined to their homes would have been unfathomable. Yet, here we are with what could go down as the most seismic temporary shift in day-to-day living and economic uncertainty that we may ever see in our lifetime. While it’s necessary to sit with and process all of the grief, stress, and strain this has placed on the world, it’s equally important to counterbalance that with optimism for the future and a positive approach for making the best of a bizarre situation.


I’m a firm believer in the stoic philosophical principle that Ryan Holiday summarized as “The Obstacle is the Way” and Marcus Aurelius quoted as “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” The impediment/obstacle that we face now is great. It’s difficult to know what lies around the corner. But with this uncertain obstacle, there comes great opportunity to evolve immensely as professionals and human beings. Instead of sinking into constant fear and being in survival mode, we can shift our mentality to thrive in all that we do.


As an agency dedicated completely to the consumer technology industry, we’ve learned a TON in these last few weeks on how consumers, media, and technology brands are adapting to this new era. Here, we wanted to get the dialog started amongst PR professionals, journalists, and the brands we all work to share knowledge and help guide each other through these uncharted waters.


Here are a few insights we’ve had that hopefully will help provide some additional perspective on how the Max Borges Agency is navigating the path ahead.


News Cycles Covering Life from Home have Increased Exponentially – It’s times like these where consumer technology can dramatically impact daily life. Media are covering trends of how consumers can optimize their work/workout/parent from home approach. We’re seeing an array of news cycles honing in on all of these topics to maximize productivity, minimize stress, and stay healthy and sane.


We’ve helped health brands reach fitness enthusiasts eager to establish a home gym setup to replicate their gym routine, educate consumers on proper sanitization for your technology, and design the perfect home workstation setup to stay productive while working from home.


People are going to news outlets in droves to stay up to speed on the latest societal developments, so sites like CNN Underscored are receiving more traffic than ever. This positively impacts their ability to produce more articles around technology that helps consumers during this time.


Journalists are Adapting to the New Norm Quite Smoothly – Media (and influencers) are part of an industry that has been organically shifting to a work from home structure over the last decade. Ever since the “great recession” in 2008, media companies have offered more WFH opportunities and invested in more freelance writers. Many are already accustomed to this working environment.


While a lot of journalists have a keen eye towards COVID-19 related news, the majority are sticking to their primary coverage beats – business as usual. In fact, some feedback we’ve received from journalists indicates that there will be a point of saturation of virus-related news over the next few weeks, where people get fatigue from hearing about it, allowing media to pivot in additional directions for their coverage.


Journalists are as willing as ever to “meet” to discuss new story ideas. We have conducted several virtual media tours in the last few weeks with great reception from journalists. Media still need to find new technology to place in their editorial calendar for the upcoming months. Many brands and agencies have dialed back their level of media engagement over the last few weeks. We’ve taken the opposite approach to make sure we’re able to help out journalists with compelling storylines when they need it most, and they’ve been very appreciative.


Crisis Communications Takes on a New Meaning – It’s probably safe to say that a business or communications strategy for a pandemic scenario was not at the top of anyone’s list before all of this went down. It goes to show that, literally anything can happen, and being prepared to adapt is everything. Being able to effectively communicate with your customers, shareholders, team members, and community are extremely important during these times of uncertainty.


It’s also an opportunity to develop and share thought provoking consumer insights and trends with the media to spark broader awareness. We’re currently partnering with an insurance tech brand to help tell the story of how many areas throughout the country that are getting hit the worst by the virus are not properly insured in order to raise awareness amongst the healthcare and political communities. Comms professionals have the opportunity more than ever to leverage their networks to help brands create real impact during times of crisis.


Opportunity to Leverage Expertise for Greater Good – James Dyson recently redesigned the ventilator in less than 2 weeks with thousands of units ready to ship in early April. That level of ingenuity, innovation and speed of implementation is truly mind blowing. It’s time to consider what all we can do to pitch in for the greater good.


Health and fitness brands can elevate their products and services to be more accessible to consumers that need to stay healthy at home. Wellness technology brands can offer the wisdom and know how to help consumers relieve stress and stay mindful during trying times. Parenting and family technology can step up and help parents understand how to manage the complexities of raising and educating a family all while working under the same roof.


There’s so much amazing knowledge in the consumer tech industry and now is the time for these true thought leaders to rise up and impact consumer’s lives when they need the most help. These will be memorable experiences that consumers won’t soon forget, establishing a genuine, empathetic connection with your brand.


The devastating economic and detrimental health effects of this virus have been immense. If there is a silver lining in all of this, it’s an opportunity to reset and reflect as professionals in this industry, and human beings on this planet.


There’s an opportunity to recalibrate our approach for the future. An opportunity to lean into the temporary self-isolation of the EFH (Everything From Home) lifestyle. To pause and step out of the daily motions of Zoom and Skype meetings and sit with the stillness of introspection for creative ideation, strategic thinking, generating a sense of calm in an otherwise chaotic time, and most importantly considering what we all can do NOW to help others.


As PR pros, journalists, consumer tech brands we have the opportunity to rethink the way we approach our businesses and humanity as a whole. Let’s all see this “obstacle” as THE way to evolve, grow, advance our industries and thrive together for many years of health and prosperity.


The brands that step up and fight during these uncertain times and shift their mentality from “survive” to “thrive” will be the organizations that are truly built to last.


Stay healthy out there!


-Matt Shumate