Uncertain Times: Values as a North Star

By : Alex Collmer


Perhaps the most useful thing about a system of values is that in times of great uncertainty, you have something to help guide decision-making when experience and precedent have little to offer.

This is one of those times.

No one knows the extent of the eventual human and economic impact of the global pandemic, but it’s safe to say that it will be significant.

With this in mind, we made two determinations last week at VidMob. First, we recognized that we are currently operating in an information deficit and need to become a listening organization immediately. The better we understand the emerging needs of our Creator Community, clients and partners, the better we can serve them. Second, we can begin to act, even while we listen and learn because for a values-driven organization, certain things are non-negotiable.

So what do we know unconditionally?

We Will Protect Our People

We have employees around the globe. As travel restrictions expand, we will spare no expense in ensuring that everyone gets where they need to be to ride out the storm safely.

As of mid-last week, we also moved to a full work-from-home (WFH) policy. This was perhaps the easiest decision we could make as it protects our people and has essentially no impact on our productivity. I’m not sure if we’ve mentioned it before, but we have a pretty darn good workflow platform that enables us to power incredible creative feats with no reliance on physical proximity. Turns out this is more useful than ever today.

We Will Serve Our Communities

Our decision to WFH also plays a part here, because this is only partly about our health. It’s also about being responsible members of the communities within which we operate. We all have a role to play in stopping/slowing the spread of the virus, and social distancing seems like an absolute no-brainer at this point. This simple image was one of the most powerful things I saw last week on this topic.

Independent Creators
Independent creators are one of the most important parts of our community. And they’re also incredibly vulnerable in times like these, as their livelihood depends on getting work. But they’re also positioned well to offer services now, as they are used to WFH and have developed experience over the years providing great creative under exactly these conditions. VidMob has creators in over 80 countries. They are ready to work, and we will do everything we can to funnel as much work their way as possible during this period.

In the last few days, many agencies have also moved towards some form of WFH stance. WPP announced that all staff was going to work from home where possible. And Havas tested having every North American employee work from home. We know that this can work, but it will be next to impossible without appropriate technology. Our team volunteered to help here, and we’re currently in the midst of a cross-company hackathon to adapt VidMob’s workflow platform so that any agency can onboard their own people and use it to manage their distributed creative. This will be ready this week, and will be made available to anyone who wants to use it for free. We made tens of thousands of pieces of custom creative for clients last year with an entirely distributed workforce and a very happy client base, so we know this can work.

Together, we can make WFH, well…. work.

We Will Serve Our Clients

Our team has been in constant contact with many of our clients over the course of the past two weeks, as we work together to establish new systems to keep their communications operational and flexible during this period. We have already seen many physical shoots getting canceled, and expect that to continue for the next few months, at a minimum.

But one thing our clients have made clear to us is that going dark during this period is not an option — their customers want and need to know what they are doing, and communication during periods of uncertainty is more important than ever. VidMob is prepared to help, as the creators on our platform have years of experience taking legacy assets of any form, and using them as the basis for entirely new communications.

With client employees out of the office, new systems will need to be implemented to ensure that communications are still approved by the appropriate authorities, but VidMob’s workflow platform can help here as well, and because we work with so many marketers, we can be a conduit for emerging operational best practices, thus helping the whole system evolve to this new reality as quickly as possible. We’re staffed to do this, and ready to dig in.

Where VidMob Gives Can Help, It Will

Dark times often lead to incredible responses, and I have no doubt that will be the case now. We are already seeing countless companies and nonprofits step up to offer help in their respective fields. Facebook announced that it would offer the World Health Organization unlimited ads to help fight the spread of misinformation. We applaud this initiative and fully expect that many of our other partners will follow suit in some way.

To the extent any of these initiatives need help crafting the actual messages to reach people effectively with information they need to hear, VidMob Gives stands at the ready to help. We have a charitable vehicle in place, ready to fund the creative work necessary to support these activities. Life offers us few true win-win situations, but this is one. Valuable messages get created at a time of need, and we get to funnel much-needed dollars to hard-working creators who deserve it.

Everything is moving so quickly with the pandemic that many of the detailed points in this post may be completely out of date one week from today. But we have built a company both in its organizational structure and the psychological make-up of its people that is literally designed for flexibility. And while the details may change, our value system is immutable. So whatever the world throws at us, I know that VidMob will calmly digest the information and respond with every resource we have to help as many people as possible.