Every single one of us spends hundreds, probably thousands, of pounds on shared experiences every year. We dream about them, we seek them out, we soak up every last drop of pleasure from them. And then we yearn for the next one.
Until now. This unprecedented shared experience. This unwanted shared experience. This ultimate shared experience. Not even the world wars affected every nation on the planet. It’s very easy to be downcast and very natural to be scared.
But the thing about shared experiences – good and bad – is that they bring us together. And the bigger the experience, the more potential it has to bring us together. Of course, many of us are still in the early grip of COVID-19 but already one thing is abundantly clear for all citizens of the world: there is so much more that unites us than sets us apart.
If we can keep this spirit with us over the next few weeks and, more importantly, remember it when we get through this, then as a civilisation we really will have made progress. More progress than even the greatest technology can give us. It’s wonderful to see the Venice canals gleaming and pollution plummeting in our major cities, but the opportunity for human behaviour is far, far bigger. As often happens in times of crisis, traditional rivalries around nations, politics, even sporting allegiances are put aside for the greater good. All over the world we’ve seen it with communities, with brands, with celebrities, with the media, even with politicians.
It’s a powerful reminder that we can, and we will, be better people when circumstances dictate. Those of us who were in London for the 7/7 bombings will remember vividly how the capital became a far more caring place for weeks, perhaps months, afterwards. But then we slowly forgot and fell into our old ways.
As communicators working for a large global agency, we deal in shared experiences on a regular basis. On a personal level, we don’t give them up easily as we’ve seen in just a matter of days in the UK – virtual nights out, pub quizzes and baby showers are already flourishing. The highlight of my week was a virtual 30th birthday party for a long-serving member of the UK Sports team – he had 40 H+K friends, and I use that word pointedly, join him on Zoom on Friday night and the fun and laughter was both hard earned and much enjoyed.
In a professional sense, most of us bring shared experiences, often in the form of events, to the public every day. But in order to do that we need the help of our support teams both at home and abroad. This is where we’re so lucky to have a global network of offices that really is like a family.
I can guarantee that every person who has ever worked with another H+K network office is still in touch with at least one person from that office. These are bonds not easily broken and memories not easily forgotten. And it’s because we share a common cause – let’s do a good job for the client. I was fortunate to spend four years running the HSBC Golf account which meant close liaison with colleagues, now friends, in Shanghai, Dubai/Abu Dhabi and Singapore each year. And every one of us has our own version of this.
This common cause of course extends to our clients. If you think of your strongest relationships with clients, they are almost always forged in difficult times – finding a way through seemingly impossible challenges, often when far from home. You’ll disagree and you’ll argue. But when tough situations are resolved they’re worth a hundred walk in the park status meetings. We’re busy helping our clients now in new and unprecedented ways. That won’t be forgotten. Because it’s the worst of times that really make us.
We’re all H+Kers – and H+Kers with a common cause. But as humans we’ve never had a common cause like this. It simply has to be bring us closer together. If it doesn’t then we really have missed an opportunity like no other.
So, when times are tough over the next few weeks and months – and they will be – remember we all have a common cause. Yes, we are walking through a storm but what a beautiful sky it will be when we emerge. Keep smiling.
NOTES TO EDITORS: H+K’s Editorial Hub is a crack team of in-house brand journalists and specialist freelancers who produce more than 400 pieces of content for clients each year – everything from thought leadership reports and copy guidelines, to newsletters and blogs, editorial features and social copy. For more details contact: firstname.lastname@example.org