Sensei Partner Story: Argyle


Joanne discusses COVID-19 response and recovery initiatives at Argyle

We connected with Joanne Pitkin, Director, Corporate and Public Affairs at Argyle, to discuss how doing their part to help others during the current COVID-19 crisis, the importance of communication in a crisis, and what will be different as we all create a new way of working.


Original Research

Joanne mentions Argyle’s original research into the strengths of relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about their research here.

About Argyle

Argyle has been building and nurturing our clients’ relationships for four decades, offering expertise in communication strategy, brand marketing, reputation management, crisis communications, digital and social media, public engagement, government relations and design.

Conductor for COVID-19

Argyle is a content partner in Conductor for COVID-19, contributing resources and thought-leadership to help companies respond and recover faster.

Get started for free with Conductor for COVID-19


00:00 [Jay] Hi everyone! I’m Jay Goldman Co-Founder and CEO of Sensei Labs. I’m really excited today to be joined on our blog here by Joanne Pitkin. Joanne joins us from Argyle who is one of the partners working with us on Conductor for COVID-19. Hi Joanne!
00:14 Yes I am a Director on our Corporate and Public Affairs team and there I specialize particularly in corporate communications, thought leadership, and executive coaching. And I also specialized specifically a tech companies as well as financial communications.
00:16 [Jay] Oh our pleasure! Did you want to tell everybody just before we jump into some questions what you do with Argyle?
00:22 Yes I am a Director on our Corporate and Public Affairs team and there I specialize particularly in corporate communications, thought leadership, and executive coaching. And I also specialized specifically a tech companies as well as financial communications.
00:40 [Jay] You’re obviously working from home, and as am I, as is the entire world at the moment – what have you found surprising that you enjoy about that?
00:50 So as a consultant I mean we were set up to work remotely already. It’s a little different to do it all the time. So you know it’s really nice to not have a commute to work but at the same time I think I miss the face-to-face interaction with our colleagues.

And one thing that Argyle we’re doing specifically to get around that is we’re having a lot of virtual happy hours, we’re doing a lot of kind of virtual social engagements. I personally organized a virtual talent show which was really fun and trying to connect with our clients more face-to-face in addition to phone because I think sometimes like the Zoom fatigue can be a real thing.

01:35 [Jay] Absolutely.
01:36 So making sure that we’re finding balance.
01:39 [Jay] So you’re obviously doing a lot of work with your clients through this crisis to support them and to help them with their responses there have been a lot of need for public responses from companies – both through COVID and through George Floyd and Black Lives Matter – what are you doing specifically around COVID-19 to support your clients?
02:00 So initially it was kind of we had to rethink how what our strategies were and reevaluate the programs that we had ongoing. And I think we’re still doing this because there’s still a lot of uncertainty about how we’re gonna sort of re-enter – to use that term again and again – but really what we’re doing is thinking about how our clients supporting internally, how are they communicating with their employees – which is such an important audience – but also how they’re supporting and communicating with their stakeholders and other external audiences.

And we work a lot with you know large financial organizations and tech companies and I think one thing that we’ve been really mindful of is making sure that we’re providing that – helping them provide that direct relief and really a transparent and honest communication because all of the uncertainty, you really need clear messaging and really clear communications throughout the process.

02:57 [Jay] You partnered with us on Conductor for COVID-19 – and thank you so much for being part of that. What led you to get involved in that program, maybe from a more philosophical perspective, what was it about it that attracted your attention?
03:11 So a lot of what we do at Argyle is really help leaders communicate with confidence. A lot of that confidence comes from the leaders having the confidence of their employees and their other stakeholders and their different communities and I think being well organized and well orchestrated and acting in an efficient and effective manner is definitely a huge part of that.

So you know Conductor being this great tool to execute on programs and to manage through a crisis is certainly something that we saw a lot of value in and at the same time providing tools for communications because as I said it’s so important right now we thought it was a good a good fit.

03:57 [Jay] Ya, great thank you! And we really appreciate you’ve contributed some excellent content that I think is helping companies to think about well really about the topics that we’ve talked about: but how to approach the public with the messaging that they need, how to communicate internally and externally, I think there’s a lot of internal communication that needs to happen right now as well.

So as you’re sort of thinking about that and I think we’ve kind of progressed past maybe the immediate crisis response phase of this for most companies and they’re now looking at what is I guess either an interim normal or a new normal, we don’t know yet, and we’ll all have to find that out together. But as we’re sort of thinking about that what are some of the considerations that you see from a communications perspective changing as a result of what we’ve all collectively been through?

04:46 So the first point that I would say it’s actually something we’ve always been thinking about in that people need to really invest in their relationships.

We’ve done some original research with Argyle where we talk a lot about or we found that relationships with employers have actually improved over the last couple months. And I think it’s worth thinking about why that is and if we’re having more regular touch points, if we’re being more clear and concise in our communications, if there’s strategies that we can take beyond these past couple months and apply them to having better relationships with our different stakeholders.

The second point is we really need to adapt our channels and strategies and content to fit what actually might now be new habits that have evolved out of this. People have been video chatting way more than they used to, live streaming, there are just you know new habits that we’ve developed and companies are gonna have to kind of pivot their strategy to adapt to that.

And third is that we really need to know what we don’t know. Adaptability has been like super important through this whole process and I think it’s actually taught a lot of companies how to be more agile in the process. So it’s just sort of being comfortable with the unknown I think it’s been a really important lesson, and a really important lesson that we need to carry forward.

06:14 [Jay] From our perspective, one of the things our team wanted to know from me and our leadership at the beginning of this was how long is it going to last and when are we gonna go back? And I think everybody’s come around to it more of a perspective of nobody knows the answers to those questions that we’re all collectively in this together, and that means that we’re going to have to continue to be adaptive – we think of it as resilient – that’s a word that we’re using a lot on our team as we’re thinking about how to continue to sort of roll with this.

Will we be back in the office in September or in January or will we ever go back to an office, that we sort of thought of as before and you know will that continue to be the case?

So actually my last question for you as we are thinking about returning to normal – and that I think we’ve all excepted doesn’t mean normal like it used to look like, but normal as it’s an evolving state and that we’re all adapting to – what are you most looking forward to?

07:11 There’s so many things I’m looking forward to! You know hugging my family. I have seen the same two people over and over again and I love them dearly but I’m excited to expand that circle, get back to sort of restaurants and that sort of social interaction, I think is one thing that definitely we’re missing. Digital technologies are great but there’s little that can replace that face-to-face interaction and I’m looking forward to seeing you know how this really changes the next five 10 20 30 years of work because this is a really interesting pivot that we’re gonna have to go through and it’ll be very very – you know for me at least when I’m sort of ending my career to be able to look back and say oh that’s when you know the way we work really changed. Right.

So that’s a longer-term thing that I’m looking forward to in the immediate. I want to see my mom and give her a big hug.

08:13 [Jay] Haha – I’m sure your mom really wants to see you as well. I know my mom is looking forward to this being over so that she can give me as well.
08:19 Yeah.
08:20 [Jay] I think we’ve talked a lot over the last years collectively about the future of work but it’s always sort of seemed like this very distant thing. Like well we’re talking about the future but really we’re talking about 10 years from now and now it feels like – and to sort of I think I’m probably gonna get the quote wrong but Satya Nadella from Microsoft has talked about how we’ve experienced two years of transformation in two months and I think it’s maybe even more than two years. But it has changed habits. It’s changed technology adoption.

We see that with Conductor and our tools, people are looking for collaboration platforms now where they may have been resistant to them in the past or the status quo may have been good enough when everybody was in the office but now that they’re not and we’re not sure they’re ever really going to be again in the same way there’s a search for new tools, new ways of working, new ways of doing things which I think in the end are actually very very positive for everybody.

So yeah absolutely I look forward to looking back on this time maybe ten years from now and thinking about how radically everything changed.

09:18 Yeah.
09:19 [Jay] So thanks again for joining us today and for being partners with us on Conductor for COVID-19 we very much appreciate it and look forward to chatting soon. Maybe we can have a beer on a patio sometime.
09:29 Yes – look forward to that. Thanks Jay!
09:31 [Jay] Thanks Joanne!


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