A view of media and ports from the European lockdown

By Tom Corbett

INMA

Antwerp, Belgium

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With the majority of countries worldwide in lock down, it may feel like the world is “closed for business” — particularly when you walk through the streets of your local town or city. Shops, bars, and restaurants closed. Maybe a few people on the street. Yet the reality isn’t entirely what it may seem.

A “lock down” isn’t a “shut down” — although every day feels like a Sunday these days — and here’s proof that it isn’t:

From the house boat of INMA European Division Head Tom Corbett, it is obvious some key operations are still running — ports and media being two of them.
From the house boat of INMA European Division Head Tom Corbett, it is obvious some key operations are still running — ports and media being two of them.

Many of us in the media business can work from home — and what media is doing all around me is impressive (more on that shortly) — thanks in particular to modern-day communication tools. We are all quickly becoming Zoom experts and addicted to Slack messages.  

We are “the lucky ones,” just like other knowledge-workers in other industries, working from the comfort of our homes. Yet there’s a part of society that still commutes to work every day for the benefit of the rest of us. And I’m not even talking about the brave nurses and doctors fighting this dreaded virus.

It might be a bit more obvious to me because I live on a houseboat on the edge of the port of Antwerp. Rest assured, the supply-chains are still humming along. Despite what your panic buying neighbour might tell you, warehouses around the world are still being stocked, supermarkets are still getting filled with delicious food (unfortunately you’ll have to cook it yourself) and (much-needed?) booze, pharmacies and hospitals with their much-needed supplies.

Of course, extra health and safety measures are in place. Let’s hope these dockworkers stay healthy and keep our ports open so we don’t need to ration our food.

As INMA Head of European Division Tom Corbett watches the pandemic from his boat off Antwerp, he celebrates those people — at ports and publishing houses — who are making the world keep going.
As INMA Head of European Division Tom Corbett watches the pandemic from his boat off Antwerp, he celebrates those people — at ports and publishing houses — who are making the world keep going.

Media companies around the globe are doing their bit to keep the world going, as well. Take Ekstra Bladet in Denmark for example. When all live music events were canceled in Denmark due to COVID-19, Ekstra Bladet live-streamed a concert by popular alternative rock band Dizzy Mizz Lizzy.

In Austria, Vorarlberger Nachrichten went beyond regular reporting with a constructive journalism approach involving a microsite where neighbours can help neighbours (within the first few hours of launching their solidarity platform, they had 800 offers) and a call to shop locally, albeit online.

24Sata split up the whole company in two teams: One working at home, the other at the office (the office team is further split into two), keeping the newsroom running and Croatia informed. 

HLN.be (De Persgroep) in Belgium is asking people to send well-wishes from their balconies and yards and flying a drone across the country to capture said wishes. Drone-journalism: a new form of journalism? Journalists can keep reporting from the field and stay safe at the same time.

Also in Belgium, Mediahuis Advertising, the advertising part of Mediahuis, is supporting small local businesses and entrepreneurs (less than 25 employees) by offering 50 million impressions free of charge — supporting the local economy by helping businesses who were forced to close their physical store yet are open-for-business online.

Germany’s Lensing Media offers a “help” page in its print edition for readers to stick to their window so people can offer help to those who need it.

Are your advertisers “panic cancelling?” Share with them this message from Mark Ritson, who maybe puts it best of all in his typical Ritson way:

“... Good marketers can and will be doing a lot more than communications. In fact, you can make a very strong argument that the best COVID communications over the next five treacherous months is no COVID communications at all. Get on with the business, with the brand, and with making tangible and impactful changes to the rest of the business.

“You don’t have to feel the nation’s pain. You just need to ensure the wheels of business keep turning.”

I write this post in honour of the many people working in our ports around Europe making sure the world economy isn’t entirely put on halt — and for all the news media company employees making sure we are all getting the information we need. Keep up the good work.

About Tom Corbett

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