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The centre can hold

Published Mar 24, 2020 – By Martin MacConnol


This last week has kept reminding me of a line from my favourite poem: “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold”.

For those who don’t know their Yeats, it’s not the cheeriest of verses, but like all great poetry it contains layers of meaning to ponder over a lifetime.

Things falling apart has been very much the experience for all of us in recent days. And yet we at Wardour have a sense that the second idea is not true: the centre is just about holding.

I’ve been amazed at the way the Wardour team has come together to get us to a point where we can all work remotely efficiently and cheerily. I am not saying this to blow our trumpet. What we’ve been making happen is just one tiny example of what people all around the world are doing: adapting to a new reality, getting on with things and making the sub-optimal work. We can’t save lives (except by staying at home!) but we can try to do our bit to keep the economy going.

Today my desktop computer just stopped working. It took me a moment to realise that in fact all the sockets on the ground floor of my home had blown. A moment of pure panic followed. A call to our electrician, Paul, sorted things over the phone. A rat or a squirrel had chosen that moment to gnaw through a cable in our shed.

Getting things working again was not only a relief but a humbling moment. It encapsulated the difference to me between what is an essential job and what is a non-essential job. Without Paul I wouldn’t have been able to do anything.

But if what we do at Wardour is not essential in the way the government defines things (and I don’t argue with that definition), I do think our output is pretty important.

Having worked in content for 24 years, and having spent half a decade before that in newsstand journalism, I’ve learned that it’s at moments of crisis when people are desperately looking for reassurance. Not just from their government but from the organisations that look after their health, their money, their careers. Of course, it’s also the time when those very organisations are overwhelmed themselves and facing crises in managing their own finances. A basic conundrum.

For now, we at Wardour feel blessed that clients are still keen to keep using us to help them communicate. And if that changes, we will understand why, and batten down the hatches with the government’s help until we are through this. But, with or without an agency’s support, I would urge all businesses to remember the importance of talking, sharing and listening when the going gets tough.

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