Tom Laranjo is the Managing Director of media agency Total Media. We caught up with him to find out how his typical day has been impacted by the coronavirus crisis, how he maintains a sense of routine and how he has helped clients respond to the pandemic.

Please describe your job: What do you do?

Helping to bring our vision to life. This involves helping to attract, develop and retain fantastic talent, supporting the case for investment into tools, technology and processes that underpin our proposition, ensuring we have a culture that matches our values, supporting our clients to make sure they get the best from their experience with us and promoting our values and proposition externally. It’s a lot but I work with a lot of amazing colleagues who make my job easy!

How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?

I spend a lot more time in front of my screen and typically I would not be tied to a desk so much. I also see more of my family which has been one of the positives of the coronavirus pandemic, even if it does mean I have to brush up on my maths!

What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?

I try to maintain a strong sense of routine. This means keeping similar working hours and yes, a similar dress code. I know if may sound silly but keeping a degree of formality through the day helps me to unwind in the evening and keep a sense of transition from one context to another. I also exercise three days a week which really helps given the lack of day-to-day movement otherwise.

Which companies have impressed you since the outbreak?

I know it would be expected for me to say this but our clients have been hugely impressive. Every one of them has been conscious of the impact their decisions have on our business and quick to communicate and guide us forward on their current thinking. It makes such a big difference to have your clients treat you like partners, especially in difficult times.

Outside of our client base I have been very impressed with Netflix because they have adapted their offer to meet a need for stay in touch with the release of Netflix Party, and they have brought humour and innovation to their communication at a time when we need both.

What changes are you making to help your clients connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?

Our focus for all our clients has been to help identify behaviour change as a consequence of the pandemic and for us this has meant looking at the world in a number of ways and helping our clients adjust not just to the short term impact of the virus but the locker term behavioural and economic consequences of the virus. This includes looking at change in a number of ways:

  • immediate and probably short-term behaviour change: change forced by lockdown and probably short-lived once the virus is under control
  • longer-term behaviour change that will persist beyond the early stages of the virus. It is likely that these will be changes that were underway prior to the virus but will likely accelerate e.g. reduced globalisation and greater regionally focused economies, less business travel, more ecommerce.
  • no change: we are also identifying aspects of our behaviour that are not changing and brands should be mindful of.

We are also trying to bring to life the impact that our changed circumstances have on our behaviour and how this relates to our choices e.g. the role of anxiety in decision making.

What trends have you seen in the last few weeks in your sector?

Greater transparency and a much higher level of inter-company support and collaboration. I think it is also fair to say that there is a good deal of anxiety building up about the longer-term implications of the pandemic. Traversing the next few years will take some considerable skill, innovation and resilience.

What advice would you give a marketer right now?

Create/adjust your plans with real people’s behaviours in mind. Rising and persistently high levels of anxiety, restricted movement and a yearning for more contact all have real impacts on people’s needs, wants and priorities. Adjusting to these will show empathy and support, without needing to say it, and allow brands to align their values with their customers. All very useful in maintaining both short and importantly long-term connections.

What does long term planning and strategy look like now at your company?

Our proposition is all about improving marketing effectiveness by knowing the real influences of people’s behaviour. We believe that this is always important and potentially now more than ever and our plans reflect this belief. We are continuing to invest and grow our consultancy, expand our international business and continue our investment into people, technology and processes that make our work better. We just might be going a lot more of this from home!