The challenges involved in getting creative ideas flowing across a team when everything has gone virtual are discussed by Lowe’s public relations director Jackie Hartzell in the latest “PR’s Top Pros Talk” video interview with Doug Simon.

“Early on in the pandemic, we decided to start hosting a daily stand up, a news meeting where we have many cross-functional partners from across the business,” she says.

The inspiration her team gets from those meetings have led to “a virtual environment of brainstorming and ideation sessions,” Hartzell tells Simon. “Even if we can't quite have the same whiteboard sessions like we did in the office, we love to still bring the team together virtually on a regular cadence to really plan to think creatively.”

She says that those sessions gave an increasing number of employees a chance to “listen in on the conversation to help inform the work that they were doing, to provide an idea, or just have a chance to think differently beyond just the day-to-day grind”—which helped them develop coordinated messaging.

As an essential retailer during the height of the pandemic, Lowe’s had to put a lot of effort into helping the sales associates who made up its front line. “We started with an internal first lens of how do we help our associates feel supported, communicated to, with consistent messaging across 2,000 stores in North America.”

With so many people based at home during the crisis, Hartzell says Lowe’s had to respond a whole new set of demands about what their consumers needed. From rethinking the outdoors as an entertainment and recreation area to repurposing living spaces as classrooms and home offices, a new set of home trends got started.

“ I think the meaning of home and what home has done for all of us over the past year has changed tremendously,” she says.

Hartzell also gives some tips for women starting out in the industry. “My biggest advice is to trust and find those that have been on the path before you that can help you navigate the challenges of being a woman in the workplace, a woman in communications, a working mother, all of those things that make our work experience so unique,” she says.

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