Once upon a pandemic: Charlotte Gentry
The twenty third in a series by Stress Matters, who have been asking those across the events industry - how are you doing?
Charlotte Gentry, CEO and founder of Pure Communications Group, on finding opportunities in adversity.
We repositioned our service offering and brand this year, although started last year with the rebuild of our website and having made this strategic move, had no idea what was coming round the corner.
Everyone has had to pivot to virtual events and the reality is, that there isn't really any money to be made in virtual, unless you are doing large volumes of it or huge congresses which require builds for virtual environments. Most corporates don't think that they should be investing money on a virtual event, unless it is a huge conference and currently no one has a crystal ball and we don't know when live events are going to come back, although the hope is Easter 2021.
Every two years we choose to go to Mauritius because it's just absolutely heavenly. This year it was just two months before I was due to have my baby and I'm so grateful we managed to go. When we got back we left London and moved to Suffolk.
Since having my baby and the start of the pandemic, I've been fully back in the driving seat of the business, whereas I've been able to take a backseat from the running of the business for the last few years. It's not that easy when you have a new born baby, but we've had nine hours sleep a night due to having the perfect son, so that helps.
In terms of self-care, I swim at eight o'clock in the morning, and I do 40 front crawl every morning; I then walk the dog between nine and ten. We are lucky to have a very nice clay pigeon shooting school about half an hour down the road so I'm having lessons regularly which helps to outlay the frustrations! I also get a massage once a month, so I am looking after myself as much as possible.
One of the highs from this year was when we won an automotive pitch for a client that we've worked with before but hadn’t worked with for a while. This particular win was great for us as we won the event from their incumbent. We delivered the live event in September and that was a real high for us. It was really creative, in the middle of Herefordshire and involved almost digging entire roads and building an entire off-roading course for it so that was a really great experience.
We are definitely hoping for growth for 2021. I think growth, stability and diversity of the projects that we're doing. We created film content yesterday in Selfridges for Cartier which was really exciting for us, working with such a prestigious brand. It was also a bit odd being in a completely empty department store!
Financial growth goes without saying, but nobody knows what next year is going to deliver. I am prepared for the fact that early next year is going to be really tough, but we’ve just got to focus on the right markets. Some of our clients don't really see the value in the virtual world but I think they were seeing it in 2020 as a stop gap, I think that the reality has sunk in that now virtual is here to stay so they will be investing more in it next year.
As far as the industry is concerned, I think what this pandemic has done has brought a huge sense of collaboration within the industry and that’s a really positive thing. I’ve really enjoyed being part of the industry campaigns to raise the profile of the events industry. There's definitely a lovely supportive collaborative feel to the way people are behaving and I think it has shifted behavioural patterns.
In the face of adversity there are always opportunities, and I think if you don’t diversify in our industry you will struggle and get left behind. There are plenty of people who are doing well at this time, but I think there are many who are finding things really tough so we all need to be kind and have a level of emotional intelligence not to talk too much about our successes in front of others who are losing jobs and their businesses.
If you would like to share your story, please visit www.stressmatters.org.uk/pandemic-stories for more information.
Read other stories in the Once Upon A Pandemic series here.