2020: A Year of Challenges and Opportunities

2020 can be described in a number of ways. A dumpster fire. A mess. Terrible. The worst year ever. 

And all of these descriptions are applicable. But one descriptor you won’t often hear: 2020 as a year of opportunities. A sentiment by our friend Krista Souto, Marketing Director of CAI, that echoed across our team is: “If challenges are gifts in disguise, then this year I have been the recipient of many.”

Supporting Our Clients

Just because there’s a global pandemic doesn’t mean that communications stop. In fact, it meant the opposite — our clients needed to find new ways to reach their audiences, and ways to stay top of mind amongst an influx of brand messages. Below are just a few examples of what we’ve been proud to do this year.

Responding and Adapting to the Pandemic

As soon as COVID began, our team knew we had to adapt. What we didn’t anticipate was how much – or how long – we would need to make our “new normal” work. 

But with the adversity came organizations looking for new ways to support the community, like the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Harvest 2020 initiative: a program that armed the Greater Philadelphia community with the tools they needed to grow their own food and share it with their neighbors in need. 

Other organizations doubled down on their traditional efforts in new ways. At Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, they’ve always supported the physical and spiritual needs of the homeless and disadvantaged in Philadelphia. As you can imagine, the challenges of 2020 made their everyday work both more important, and more overwhelming. With Slice’s support this year, the Sunday Breakfast team was able to meet their major fundraising goals for  Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday, and we were incredibly honored to help them make a difference in our community. 

Bringing Attention to Heroes 

While some focused on supporting our neighbors directly, others used their platforms to honor the essential workers who were true heroes through these difficult times. Leaders from brands like Philly Pretzel Factory shifted their focus from sales to support, acknowledging those making an impact on their communities at-large. In an article on Franchise.org, it’s noted that these franchisees did that by “making sure those who are on the frontlines of this crisis are taken care of while they work around the clock to keep our loved ones healthy.” 

Other organizations focused on honoring lesser thought-of heroes: park professionals who maintain the spaces that were the only outdoor getaway during quarantine.  Each year, PRPS and the GOOD for PA campaign celebrate Park and Recreation Professional’s Day and the workers who maintain parks and ensure that they’re open, clean, and operational when they’re needed. And this year, we found ourselves even more grateful for these safe spaces to escape to.  

Continuing Strategically 

Some organizations found ways to strategically pivot to expand their business and maintain growth. For companies like Parkway, that meant continuing with the groundbreaking of 2222 Market, set to be one of the largest new construction projects in Center City, Philadelphia. The partnership of the organizations responsible for 2222 Market are a shining example of collaboration and innovation, and reminded us to stay focused on Philly’s bright future. Others, like Crab Du Jour, found themselves navigating industry-wide health restrictions. Even though they had to involve tents, temperature checks, and appropriately distanced tables, they were able to expand their franchise and open new locations across the country.

Others used this time to refocus on overall strategy. For Alvernia’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, this meant moving away from monthly in-person events to a more holistic support system for Reading-area’s business leaders: enter The O’Pake Institute, a support system designed to help businesses achieve their goals. Others, like Chef Jose Garces, planned strategic launches. Garces’ new cooking series “Cooking Space,” and his upcoming virtual classes “Latin Live,” were carefully planned during 2020.

At Slice, we used this time to launch our new Diversity Advisory Council. This team of business leaders help inform our clients’ strategic initiatives with insights from their varied backgrounds. Because when nothing else can be certain, we should still be able to count on our messaging being inclusive.

Supporting Each Other from Six Feet Apart

Like teams everywhere, we had to adapt to a whole new way of working. Gone were the days of walking over to someone’s desk for a quick touch-base or chatting while grabbing coffee. Now, everything was strictly relegated to video chats and direct messaging apps. 

However, who would have guessed that virtual happy hours would be a saving grace? Virtual gatherings, like happy hours, lunches, and holiday parties, allowed companies like ours to experiment and try new things. Were they the same as meeting up in person? No. But it allowed some semblance of connection and normalcy. 

Our annual Social Media Day Philadelphia conference was even moved to the virtual space. Normally an in-person conference with 500+ attendees, we needed to shift to an online platform that still allowed attendees to network while learning the top digital marketing trends. Some of that was achieved by leveraging solutions like StreamYard and Slack. 

But what really guided this year’s event was the new co-mentorship program that paired marketing leadership with day-to-day practitioners. These pairings allowed leaders to learn more about the granular side of social media marketing, while practitioners were able to gain insights into the bigger marketing picture. 

What’s Next?

Who knows.  While we might not know what’s in-store for 2021, we can all agree that there’s no important time to prepare for the coming year. However, we’d love it if you would stay connected with our team and pay attention for a few of our upcoming announcements.

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