Troy Chamber President, Tara Tomcsik-Husak interviews Antoine Dubeauclard, President of Media Genesis. 

TARA: Hi Antoine, Thanks for connecting with our readers today.  As we learn about the effects of Covid-19 in the industries we serve, we notice that every business has different struggles.  What has been the greatest obstacle for you and your team at Media Genesis?

ANTOINE: Obviously, there are a lot of challenges that this pandemic has made very apparent very quickly. One of the more challenging aspects for us has been explaining to clients and businesses that, just because there is this shift in circumstances, it does not mean you must shutter your business plans altogether. If your company is used to conducting your business one way, we can help you figure out a digital avenue to keep things moving.

For example, some companies depend on direct sales or tradeshows – both of which can’t be done using traditional models right now. Changing course in the middle of anything is terribly difficult, and wading into unfamiliar territory can give any business pause, but we have found that now more than ever, having good counsel in navigating a new digital path is even more important. We have been a pretty good digital Sherpa long before this craziness, and change is part of the DNA when operating in the digital space.

TARA: Since you see that we are all learning to do things differently and be adaptive of utilizing digital platforms, can you recommend some digital solutions for other members who are struggling right now?

ANTOINE: With all the ongoing uncertainty of person-to-person contact, we have seen a lot of businesses begin the shift to digital storefronts. While a complete shift to an e-commerce solution might not seem practical, there are a few things that can be done now without much heavy lifting.

To begin, update your website to reflect your changes; inform your clients how you are taking orders, what your hours are, and how they can contact you. Small things like having a contact form or an email address up and monitored will ensure your clients know you are listening and open for business. Even some traditionally brick-and-mortar companies are finding a creative way to sustain their business.

One example is a creative studio that does pottery classes. They deliver the materials and glazes, and once the stay at home order is lifted, people can bring their completed pottery to be fired. It’s actually a great way to keep kids entertained.

A nonprofit that depends on an annual fundraising dinner is dropping off appetizers, coordinating with a wine distributor, and creating a virtual auction. There are many creative ways to adapt. More importantly, the businesses who adapt may have a significant advantage over those who don’t when we get back to “normal.” It’s quite possible some of these new business models will become whole new avenues for revenue.

For now, and likely in the future, certain things are likely to stay. For example, teleworking is likely going to increase. Online use has gone up significantly, which means advertising on common channels (Google, Facebook, YouTube are all experiencing double digit growth) is way up – likely resulting in a boom in e-commerce.

TARA: How are you staying connected with your customers?

ANTOINE: We are fortunate in that our industry lends itself to digital communication. We have tools in place that we have used to keep communication lines open with our clients, from real-time collaborative task management to simply joining together on a Zoom call. We have worked virtually with many clients; some we have never met in person. We have always prided ourselves in being a very ‘process driven’ organization, and with that comes documentation and open communication with our clients.

We are very clear when it comes to where we are on client projects, what the next steps are, and who is responsible for those steps. All of this remains in place today, and we continue to use these communication tools as an avenue for keeping connected with our clients. For us, that side of it hasn’t changed much. We talk about it at further length in our April newsletter article on the topic of working from home.

TARA: You have always had such a positive attitude. How are you staying so optimistic during this time?

ANTOINE: Zoom happy-hours?

It’s actually really uplifting to have check-in calls with other team members, clients and partners. We’re all experiencing this together. It’s important to remind ourselves of what we can learn and retain on a human level from this pandemic.

As I reflected on these lessons, a few positive outcomes of the current social situation came to mind:

  • We are checking in on friends and family. We are taking the time to see how neighbors and friends are doing. We are finding the time to listen and help where we can.
  • We are spending more time with family (virtually or otherwise), seeing how our kids learn, how we co-exist for days and weeks together.
  • We are developing a sense of belonging – joining with people who support one another, whether through navigating the stimulus package for business owners or by sharing advice on how to manage kids at home.
  • We are rediscovering the outside world, cherishing daily walks and the occasional sunshine. Let’s face it, our dogs have never been walked so much! Our yards and homes have gotten more attention than they’ve had in years.
  • We’re cooking from scratch again and thinking about groceries in new ways.
  • We’re recognizing our at-home, frontline heroes: doctors, nurses, first responders, people who stock grocery stores, and the countless others who make day-to-day living possible during this troubling time.
  • We’re developing a better appreciation and understanding of the challenges that come with teaching kids, and how much work educators really do.
  • We are finding small acts of kindness everywhere, from grocery shopping for those who can’t leave their homes to helping an elderly neighbor cut their lawn.

At work, we use Slack – a collaboration tool. We have a channel dedicated to random discussions that are not short of funny stories we share with each other daily. On top of that, our High Five channel in Slack allows us to see the good things (both in and outside of work) that we are all giving one other praise for – and that shines bright spots on individuals who may need a lift that day.

 

TARA: Ha! Well you know I am a huge fan of the Virtual Happy Hour.

I love how engaged you and your team have been during this crisis and how you are taking this time to recognize the important things like helping and appreciating others. Any idea on what Media Genesis will do first, when we’re back to our new normal?

ANTOINE: It’s unclear what normal will be, but one of the things we enjoy as a group is to meet and host events – whether it’s playing games, watching a movie, painting pumpkins, painting planters, or a good ol’ chili cook-off. While we are fortunate to have the ability to work with our clients and each other through various digital means – we also just like talking face-to-face and being together. Unfortunately, there are not enough virtual Zoom happy hours that can replace sitting next to one other and enjoying the company of our peers.

TARA: Thanks for chatting with me. I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for being such and active Troy Chamber Member. In fact, Media Genesis has been with us since 1997 and your CEO, Brad Frederick was even our board chairman in 2005. Why do you think it is important to stay engaged with organizations such as chambers?

ANTOINE: Chamber and member organizations provide a structure to connect with peers and help one another, from virtual meet-ups to online webinars. The Troy Chamber is a good example of programming that has adapted to the situation. For example, the lunch and learn on how to present virtually – something many of us do on a regular basis. More than ever, we need peer groups, and this provides a great way to get those connections.

To feature your company in the Blog Series: The Effects of COVID-19 on Industry, please contact Troy Chamber President, Tara Tomcsik-Husak.
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