If someone told me 12 months ago that in 2021, in the middle of yet another lockdown, I’d be making the move from one of the largest media agency networks in the world to a small independent media agency, specialising in the not-for-profit and health sector, I would have been sceptical.
Late March 2020 was a month where many of us were hit by a storm so hard no one saw it coming. In the blink of an eye, the world that we knew, had turned upside down. The global economy cratered and so did the advertising world with businesses cutting billions of dollars in marketing budgets. Suddenly, we found ourselves working from home and saw colleagues and clients out of jobs. Immediate “voluntary” pay cuts, forced leave, four-day weeks, and nine-day fortnights were introduced among many large organisations.
But the situation in March 2020 was reversed in March 2021. The economy bounced back, jobs returned, and advertising spend has seen a high like never before. Businesses shifted their focus from pure survival back to growth.
And like many others stuck at home, I found myself re-evaluating my personal values and identity. I had been wanting to return working with charities and not-for-profit organisations for years. These thoughts didn’t start in the pandemic, but they intensified in the pandemic as I had always wanted to give back to the community with a vision to create change in the world. But it wasn’t until the pandemic that I finally took that leap.
I believe my calling for wanting to change the world started back in high school when my then geography teacher taught us about social inequality in Brazil, where the poorest of the poor live in slums right next to the richest of the rich. This unjust and brutal difference between rich and poor made me realise that when I am a ‘grown up’ I want to do something that has a purpose and meaning to others. More specifically to make a difference in people’s lives that have been less fortunate. The hard truth is that we don’t all start from the same starting point. Some get lucky, some unlucky. Impact and change are created by those lucky ones who choose to try to create a better world for the not so lucky.
This is why I started working for Save the Children back in 2014 while I was doing my bachelor’s degree. I quickly developed a great passion for the organisation, the work, the different teams I worked with, and the remarkable people I met along the way. From a permanent Save The Children supporter who grew up with both of her parents blind and deaf, through to a 20-year-old Syrian refugee whose German was better than my English studying medicine. I met a man who stayed up all night at a hospital and ended up talking to me for several hours, finishing the conversation with ‘where do I sign’.
Whilst work was intense, I stayed with Save The Children for almost three years but moving forward knew that I need to develop certain skills and professional experience to more effectively impact change. I deepened my knowledge and skills, completing my Master’s Degree at the University of Newcastle, eventually starting my media and communication career.
Along the way, I continued to volunteer in different organisations like Viva Con Aqua, the Newcastle University Student Environment Club, Hammond Care, and Monika’s Doggie Rescue or at a horse-riding school for people with disabilities.
Prior to joining Media Precinct, my previous agency team and I helped big brands grow even bigger. Grow in sales. Grow in customers. We helped clients understand their customer purchase journey of the categories in which they operate, to execute strategies that integrate media, content, and technology. My day to day involved investigating and diagnosing the category, understanding cultural trends and tensions, and deciding which path to follow to move people towards action. And as the corporate lifecycle goes, you find yourself pursuing the next big thing.
And while we were working remotely, all these positive things in the workplace that you usually have around you, were stripped away. That change gave me the chance to ask “Does my field of work add value to the community? Does my job give back to the community?”
The pandemic gave me the push to do something, to contribute towards meaningful change, to be a bigger part of it. And what better way to do it within communications where my journey originally started from, back helping not-for-profit organisations use my skills. Media and communications allow us to use insights, inject creativity and emotions into it, and come up with ideas that will change the thoughts and behaviour for the long run of not one, but many. This is crucial for all charities and non-for-profits and that is what I am most passionate about. It is why I joined the Media Precinct.
Laura Beckmann is an Account Manager at Media Precinct working with clients like Dementia Australia and Cerebral Palsy Alliance.