By Owain Betts
You’re about to read something that might resemble a rambling. But don’t worry, it’s me and not you (a bit like ending a relationship).
Every day’s a beautiful day. I’m not sure where I heard that phrase or even who the original author was – if there was one.
But during the past few weeks as a I go through my daily routine of not sleeping well and then counting down… three, two, one, before shouting “let’s get this road on the show” and jumping out of bed, I remind myself of those five words. (For your own sake and sanity try not to visualise this whole situation).
It’s been more important now than ever. You see I’m not a solitary person. At least I like to have control over when I want to see or speak to people. Although sometimes I like to socialise but not talk to anyone. Does that make sense? Think of sitting in a café working with all the noise around you, but you’re not actively taking part in that noise.
Anyway, let’s not go there now. The fact is, the control I have, or had, over my ability to meet or see friends has been taken away from me. This thing called Coronavirus or COVID-19 has taken control. No, I haven’t contracted it. At least not yet, but it’s resulted in us all having to be almost locked down completely as we abide by the government advice (regulations) to stem the spread of the virus.
This has had a big impact on me, as many of my friends remind me during regular video calls. They seem genuinely worried about how I’m coping. But truth be told, elements of being forced to remain in solitary isolation are quite good. It’s made me look at myself, my home, my work and lot of other things closely and started a process of re-evaluating a lot of what I do.
Remembering the benefits of exercise and social interaction
I run a lot and I use the gym pretty much every other day. I meet friends in local bars, and I have a lot of friends who own bars and restaurants. This combination means I’m out a lot (not drinking) socialising. Okay, sometimes drinking. At least I used to be able to do all these things.
First of all, the running and gym aren’t just about the physical elements, they’re about the mental and other health benefits. It’s also a good time for me and one of my best friend’s to gossip.
The bars and restaurants are merely an environment (or a stage) where it’s easy to sit and talk. I’m not a park bench type of guy.
These have all been taken away from me.
Another impact of the virus could be work, although it’s not at the moment. I’m a freelance communicator. You know, PR, media relations, etc (and I’m not talking AbFab).
I went freelance nearly 10 years ago. Just as the financial crisis that we’ve only just sorted was coming to an end (and here we go again). I left a good job and career to venture out on my own. And I’ve been lucky enough to have some great clients along the way and not had to worry about having no work.
In fact, since I began work at 16 years of age as a junior reporter, I’ve not been out of work.
Touch wood, my core clients are all still employing me and, so far, the virus hasn’t taken control of their businesses. But anything could happen.
The one thing they understand is that it’s far more important to embrace PR, marketing and communications now than at any other time. Be seen and heard now, ahead of the time when the isolation regulations end, and we all run out of the door to the pub.
People are more likely to remember a business that continued promoting its goods and services when they were sat at home wondering what to do but with their head stuck in the online media and social media.
It’s not new
Having worked in the media, government communications, financial services, tourism and other sectors, times like these where we’re facing the unknown have not been new.
Foot and Mouth, recession, property market collapse, etc, have all impacted on areas I’ve worked in, mainly from dealing with them in a professional capacity.
And this is the positive bit, if that makes sense. In those times of uncertainty, we all felt a little unnerved. Industries were badly hit, many businesses closed, and friends lost jobs. Financial products became expensive or unreachable.
But let’s look back – you know, at that thing called hindsight. Hindsight doesn’t have to be something we look at and say, “well if we’d done it this way it would have been better.” It can also be used to look back and say “well, we’ve been through this before and everything was okay in the end.”
And it will be okay. We just need to ensure we stick together and “socialise” – at a distance or via WhatsApp (other secure messaging systems are available). And when it’s all over ensure we keep socialising and being there for friends, family and even strangers.
So, while things might look a little uncertain, we’ll soon be on a firmer footing. Even if the landscape we knew before this blip might be a little different.
Apologies for the rambling.
But let’s spread a little bit of positiveness – not Coronavirus.
Owain Betts is a freelance PR, media and public affairs consultant. He was born and raised in Mid Wales (parents from Cardiff with regular visits to Barry). He began his career as a journalist and news editor before moving to roles in PR and media relations for private and public sector organisations, including Welsh Development Agency, Welsh Government and Finance Wales.
Thanks to Owain for writing exclusively for Mrs SVJ – the community blog of Sue Vincent-Jones. Sue is a journalist, editor, and communications specialist who blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a quirky, and queer, girl done good.