November 19, 2020


by Aalastair Sibley in News

When our work lives and home lives were all but tossed into a blender in March, we witnessed a drastic change in the way we work and interact with colleagues, vendors, suppliers and partners. Same goes for the way we run our households; everything from how we purchase groceries to how we educate our children has transformed.  In Red Havas’ latest white paper, and in the Trends Brief segment of this episode, we explore how pandemic-era consumers expect far more from the technology that is helping us hold it all together from day to day.

Panellists include James Wright, global CEO, Red Havas and chair, Havas PR Global Collective; Rachael Sansom, managing director, Red Havas U.K.; Aarti Shah, executive editor, PRovoke Media; and Pattie Sullivan, SVP and head, B2B practice, Red Havas U.S. The panel is moderated by Linda Descano, CFA®, EVP, Red Havas U.S.

Together they discuss how consumers now want fast, efficient and easy all the time. This has had a profound effect on both business-to-business (B2B) companies and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies when it comes to delivering services, experiences and products—not just to their immediate consumer but to people in general. As our panelists discuss, if there’s anything to be gained from this changed communication landscape, it’s that we were quickly reminded of the true humanity we all share. We are people first and foremost—and we’ve begun to relate and communicate with this understanding at the forefront.   

In this episode you will learn: 

  • The four rules of engagement for P2P communication  
  • Why the pandemic has further driven consumers to insist brands demonstrate purpose in action up and down the supply chain, not just in the end product  
  • Why employee-generated content provides the most value for brands (and is often the most underutilized form of influencer content)   
  • Which generations are most interested in working for employers with a well-defined purpose (even valuing purpose over paycheck)  

In the Red Questionnaire segment, Georgina Thompson, senior account director for Red Havas U.K., chats with Jeffrey Whitford, MilliporeSigma’s head of sustainability, social business innovation and life science branding. In each episode, we ask our guests the same set of questions—e.g., first job, favorite cliché, number of stamps in their passport. We also plumb our expert guests’ experiences for predictions about what we can expect to happen next in their respective industries. Jeffrey has plenty of interesting things to say about how the conversation about climate change will shift during the United States’ transition to a new presidential administration. Says Jeffrey, “What you’ve seen, or started to see, in regard to climate is more specific actions. And I think that’s the kind of thing that I always am reverting people back to–rather than taking a look at the commitments, how are we taking a look at the action that’s taking place, and the change that is happening?” 


“In light of the Pfizer news that came out yesterday, it really sort of struck me again that we do need trusted sources of information … so people can make good decisions. So I think this idea that P2P actually does equal higher quality information is really interesting and can facilitate trust, especially when that’s being eroded.” —Aarti Shah, Executive Editor, PRovoke Media  

‘While we’ve seen a number of industries have been hit hard by the pandemic, audiences are not prepared to give brands a hall pass during this time. In fact, they expect brands to stay true to their purpose, despite the challenging business environment… Brands that put purpose on pause in the short term may very well find themselves that they’ve lost the public trust and confidence over the long term and regaining it can certainly be an uphill climb.” —Pattie Sullivan, SVP and Head, B2B Practice, Red Havas U.S.  

“Every kind of CEO I’ve spoken to has talked to me about their own personal stories and how they felt a much greater connection to their own employees [during the pandemic]. And therefore, I think that that gives you more confidence to one, think about how you can embrace your employees, how you can support them, but then also how you can utilize them as brand advocates?” —James Wright, Global CEO, Red Havas and Chair, Havas PR Global Collective  

“It’s not just about saying all the right things; it’s about doing the things and making sure that you’ve reconciled what you say versus what you do, and you’re minding the gap. Because your employees are more likely to call you out on it if they’re not seeing that follow through. And that creates a whole other sort of set of reputational risks that then the company has to manage.” —Linda Descano, CFA®, EVP, Red Havas U.S.   

“2021 will be a year of recovery: recovery of the economy, recovery of health, and recovery of confidence in all parts of society. But that isn’t going to happen immediately in January; it’s going to happen over time. The role that organizations, corporates, businesses and brands can play will continue to be at the forefront of that.” —James Wright, Global CEO, Red Havas and Chair, Havas PR Global Collective  

“One of the dynamics we’ve seen around experiences is that some brands who perhaps have been at the forefront of physical experiences have slightly struggled in the new normal … whereas we’ve seen smaller brands, who are perhaps a bit more agile, have really kind of embraced this challenge and taking it to the fore. One of the things about the virtual experience space—it lets small companies be able to hold experiences that many people can participate in at a relatively low cost. So they’re not tied into buying big properties or big events.” —Rachael Sansom, Managing Director, Red Havas U.K.  

“You do need to continually evaluate your content in the context of what’s happening now. More than ever, the situation we’re living in, and that we’re working in, is very fluid. And content that was appropriate a few months ago, a few weeks ago, a few days ago, may seem out of touch. And even though things are uncertain, don’t keep company leaders under wraps, they should be visible, they should be communicating internally and externally with empathy, because after all, it’s that human connection that’s the very foundation for person-to-person communication.” —Pattie Sullivan, SVP and Head, B2B Practice, Red Havas U.S.  

“For those of us who work in the [sustainability and climate] sector, we’re really pushing to say, if we can provide more data, then we’re going to be able to have more transparency about the areas of focus. Because on the whole, to be honest, what you and I do individually isn’t the big lever. That’s not what’s going to do it. It’s kind of got to be what industry does [and] what … big utilities do.” —Jeffrey Whitford, Head of Sustainability, Social Business Innovation and Life Science Branding, MilliporeSigma  

Give “Red Sky Fuel for Thought” a listen, and subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify or your favourite podcasting app. Don’t forget to rate and review to help more people find us!


Trends Brief  Panellists:

James Wright, Global CEO, Red Havas and Chair, Havas PR Global Collective  

Rachael Sansom, Managing Director, Red Havas U.K.  

Aarti Shah, Executive Editor, PRovoke Media  

Pattie Sullivan, SVP and Head, B2B Practice, Red Havas U.S.  

The Red Questionnaire Guest:  

Jeffrey Whitford, Head of Sustainability, Social Business Innovation and Life Science Branding, MilliporeSigma