Well… 2020 quite frankly sucked, but for all the loss and hardship came an evolution. The year changed the lives of people across the globe and with doing so the media landscape all at once. Without exaggerating it changed overnight. It was ten years of anticipated growth across platforms squeezed into nine months.
When homes became offices (while our own office underwent its transformation of paint, neon and more) and parents became teachers, we witnessed and contributed to incredible innovation in order to keep people informed. Living rooms became studios, and dining rooms control rooms. While we still grapple with how to cope with the new way of communication as we live in isolation, the devotion to keep people connected was relentless across all mediums.
While innovation inspired, the weight of what was happening had its own impact on our team. It changed us all. We began quick morning check-ins to start out our days to help stay connected. We even restructured our work week to adapt with how work/life boundaries were being blurred by implementing “Flex Friday’s.” Essentially we adopted the widely recognized European four day work week structure, assuming all assigned work is complete.
The team at Dirigo Collective allowed our brand partners to remain agile and smart with how we were staying connected and driving meaningful impact. We pivoted every single one of our local, regional and national partners overnight as lockdowns hit and people restructured how they lived. We took the first few days of the lockdown to press pause across all mediums, which is a feat in itself. We took that time to gather all the insights we could from our world class resources to help inform how we move forward. In that time, our team created a statewide platform called Stay Home Maine that served as a directory for 139 businesses across Maine to keep their patrons informed about changes in services, menus, hours, along with resources to help with education and entertainment for families. It was the first COVID-19 related directory of its kind in Maine that we promoted and continued to update in the first several months of lockdown as people adapted to their “new normal.” In three days our team showed the power behind a collective force using their skills for a greater good.
Once we understood how we were going to respond to the world’s changes, we began re-launching campaigns within the first week of shutdowns and continued to optimize campaigns not just daily, but several times daily. We worked diligently to remain responsive and not reactive to the data that was informing our campaigns and strategies. There’s a difference. Our team and media partners’ commitment ensured that our brands that we work with not only reached the right people in the right environment with the right messaging, but that we were actually creating a positive impact that met and exceeded goals.
While we accelerated the way we responded to the world around us with our brand partners, our content team was busy at work providing refuge in meaningful content by launching three new shows all dedicated to inspiring and informing people about how they can create an impact in their life. We released Renegades and Mavericks where we shared stories of people interrupting the status quo and breaking new ground in their field. Just in time for Independence Day we declared our own inter-dependence with our Responsibly Different podcast that follows our company’s journey to becoming B Corp certified and stories of other B Corps who share how they use business as a force for good. Finally, we launched MediHuh? in late summer where we essentially geek out and explore the beginnings of modern media, the impact it has on civilization, the modern day streaming wars and everything in between. Stay tuned for new seasons and new original content from Dirigo Collective coming Spring 2021.
This wasn’t just a year transformed by being the deadliest year in U.S. history, but also the most contentious that many would agree we haven’t seen since the civil rights movement. It forced us and everyone in our position to reassess the responsibility behind the operations and use cases of social media as a whole. We provided our perspective on boycotting Facebook, and while unpopular with some of our brand partners when we first released our thought leadership on the matter, it was the stance widely used by the industry weeks later after taking into consideration the impact Facebook has on local communities and the way many communicate – especially during the pandemic.
Speaking of social media, TikTok transformed how we consume video by playing to the power of sound. There were times when utilizing TikTok as an ad platform that we weren’t sure if what we were running was going to be live the next day when we came back, in fear the U.S. Government may get approval placing restrictions and blocking the platform as a whole.
Oh wait, there was an election on top of all this! How could we forget… well, we didn’t. That’s another story. All of this to say, if there was ever a time to lead with the highest ethical standards and assume the responsibility and power we as media professionals wield, 2020 put it all on the line.
Since we started Dirigo Collective we have been told by others in the media and marketing community that we’re crazy, that our investments into research, platforms, technology and people will never make sense. If you’re still reading this though, you’re likely not one of them. You’re one of the many helping us prove them wrong.
You help us prove that good does prevail, that smart ideas don’t need to come from Maddison Avenue, and that we don’t need to compromise our dedication to quality and values for success. We are humbled by the belief our brand partners and community have in us to create a better platform for progress. Because of that belief you allowed our Dirigo Collective family to expand in the shadows of uncertainty 2020 gave us. We were able to invest more into our communities with thousands of dollars going directly to several non-profits that our team selected, we even invested MORE in additional technology and resources that allow our team to pull even deeper insights more efficiently than ever. Because of you, you’re allowing us to drive a deep impact into our communities and culture. You are allowing us to be a force for good. You are part of creating a platform that sits in a humble 150 year-old mill in Maine that is punching well above our weight and competing with national media companies.
To wrap this and 2020 up, the year took some great people from us, 339,000 in the United States alone from COVID-19 as I write this. People who had a great impact but stories many of us will never hear. Unrelated to COVID-19 we also lost some great people who left a legacy we will be familiar with. Two that I looked up to were Regis Philbin and the late John Lewis. Lewis once said, “I was inspired to get in trouble and get in the way.” Trouble comes in many forms. In some ways the most trouble we can create for better or worse is with truth. We will be raising our glass as the clock strikes midnight to the few who believe that truth matters more than ever in 2021. If we’re going to make the positive impact we need to take what we learned in 2020 and be better for it, It’s going to demand a lot from us. Not everyone appreciates the truth. It can come off abrasive especially in an industry that leads with brilliant showmanship and ability to wordsmith and spin tall tales. Truth is something some in our field aren’t prepared for. But for those who are looking to take a hard look at how they move through the world, and want to see responsible innovation in media and storytelling, we welcome 2021 in with you. Let’s get into what the late John Lewis called ‘good trouble’ and do what we know is right by challenging the way things have always been done. Finally, let’s not take one moment or person for granted. We could not be more excited and energized by what 2021 will bring.