Jean Serra
Jean Serra

V2 Communications CEO Jean Serra’s lesson learned from the early days of COVID was the importance of regular and frank communication with clients and her staff.

This took the form of honest assessment of the impact of the pandemic on clients’ bottom lines and how business goals needed to be adjusted to also keeping team members in the loop on departing accounts.

“Don’t PR your feedback,” Serra stressed to the attendees of “Leading Through Challenging Times” webinar Nov. 15 sponsored by O’Dwyer’s & moderated by Researchscape's Tony Cheevers.

Inflation and fear of a recession are top of mind with many of V2’s clients, but Serra faces these issues head-on. “It’s important to be upfront about the reality of the world,” she stressed.

Tony Cheevers
Tony Cheevers

Serra described a very busy fall so far of in-person contact with clients who, while not denying impact of current events, still see opportunities.

While many would characterize today’s dicey economic climate as challenging, Serra prefers to look at is as evolving.

“Leadership is a lot more than managing a crisis, it also involves keeping your finger on the pulse of change in your department, on your team, in your organization, in your marketplace, in the world. All of that helps leaders to identify a shifting tone, and a shifting conversation in the market,” Serra said.

V2 works with clients to prioritize scenarios most likely to occur and what actions will have the biggest impact on stakeholders, Serra explained. Key to this effort is getting a handle on a client’s mission and vision.

ESG starts small

As ESG and sustainability efforts become increasingly common in organizations and require strong leadership to rally both internal and external stakeholders, Serra noted many clients turn to her firm to help communicate both corporate positions on issues and the programs already in place.

“Even in the absence of having that formal program in place, communications can help clients look at what is happening in pockets of their organization that they may not be thinking about and create connective tissue around projects that work as part of a larger ESG and sustainability narrative,” she said.

Ultimately, coverage of and awareness for ESG and sustainability initiatives are opportunities to contribute to larger societal conversations, Serra explained.

COVID broadened talent pool

A positive side effect of the pandemic was the opening up of V2 to a talent pool not just based around their offices in Boston and New York, according to Serra.

While the hybrid work model used by V2 and many others puts a damper on organic connections in the office, Serra believes her team enjoys the flexibility and shows no signs of turning back. “You have to work on figuring out ways to make sure there’s an opportunity for meaningful personal interactions when people come in,” Serra said.

Setting up more personalized forms of outreach to staffers is critical, Serra explained. V2 uses one on one check-ins. “Good communications during tough times focuses both on what’s happening with the business, but also on how people are doing personally,” Serra said.

A full recording of "Leading Through Challenging Times" webinar is available.

Future webinar topics under consideration are:

  • Content marketing and its intersection with PR
  • Mental health and wellness at work
  • Crisis communications

Feel free to contact John O'Dwyer at [email protected] if you'd like to suggest a topic, be a panelist or are interested in sponsoring a webinar.

Past webinars:

To Plan or Not to Plan: Strategic Planning in a Dynamic World

To Plan or Not to Plan: Strategic Planning in a Dynamic World
Monique Waters, H2O Strategies Founder
Tina Charpentiar, EVP, Padilla
Oct. 18, 2022

Overcoming Toxic Culture: Everyday Practices That Make a Difference

Overcoming Toxic Culture: Everyday Practices That Make a Difference
Dr. Kerry O’Grady, Faculty Director and Associate Professor of Practice, Georgetown University
Sep. 20, 2022

Business Development for PR Agencies

Business Development for PR Agencies
Karen Swim, President, Words for Hire
Vanessa Horwell, Chief Strategy Officer, ThinkInk
John Vernon, Sr. Business Development Mgr., PAN Communications
Apr. 21, 2022