A year after the pandemic was declared, how are some Christian communicators doing?
That was the subject of a recent water cooler webinar sponsored by the Canadian Christian Communicators Association.
“The workload ramped up significantly,” said one person, who works for a denomination. “Suddenly, everyone wanted to put things online.”
That was the right thing to do, he said, but the communications department was not staffed to accommodate all of those urgent requests.
Another communicator said he got “roped in” to helping colleagues at his office with their Zoom needs—setting up and managing webinars and meetings. He was happy to help, but it was not in his job description.
Another person echoed those sentiments, noting that at her office there was a sudden upswell in online meetings. Of course, everyone looked to communications for help, but nobody suggested taking other things off her desk.
“I felt really burned out by December,” she said. “I needed a mental health break.”
2020, she added, “was one long scramble. I was always flying by the seat of my pants.”
With everything across the country online, the editor of a national denominational publication noted she couldn’t use the usual response for why she couldn’t attend them all—she didn’t have the time or budget.
But with the travel costs now zero, she found herself struggling to say no to everything the denomination wanted her to cover.
“There were so many Zoom meetings I could have been going to all of them all the time,” she said.
Worse, attending online meant not being able to take advantage of those important serendipitous hallway conversations that not only provide precious breaks in day-long meetings, but often provide interesting story opportunities.
A concern for another editor is what will happen to legacy—print—media when the pandemic is over.
Everyone knows print has a short shelf life, he said, but the pandemic may have accelerated its demise. He added so far nobody seems to be giving that much thought.
For a couple of communicators, the pandemic shut down all of their projects. This gave them a chance to review communications and come up with new plans to be more strategic.
“The pandemic gave us time for some conversations about what content we wanted to make,” said one. They could ask questions like “What do we pull back on? What can we do better? What content is most highly valued?”
Another editor noted the pandemic made her think more intentionally about the needs of her staff. This included being deliberate about checking in to see how everyone was doing.
Her magazine also instituted “no meetings Fridays,” so people could get a break from Zoom.
Another organization mandated that nobody needed to reply to e-mails on Friday afternoons if they didn’t want to; at the same organization staff were encouraged to build in periods of “unavailable time.”
One editor said a positive of the pandemic was she was getting more thank-you notes from readers.
Near the end of the watercooler, someone wondered if everyone’s job descriptions will be changed post-COVID—so much has changed.
So there you have it—a few thoughts from communicators after a year of lockdown. What was your experience?