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About the Host:
Host: DOUG SIMON
Guest: ALYSON ROY
DOUG: So, Alyson, you added to the excitement and challenges of a pandemic by giving birth to a child eight days into it. What have you learned from having to navigate both of those challenges and exciting events on the side of giving birth?
ALYSON: Yeah, I think it was definitely, pandemic was unexpected, not the birth. So, I had to very quickly think about how I was going to help my team and my employees to pivot both from a work from home capacity, making sure they were fully set up, as well as from a client capacity because everything was changing so quickly. And definitely there were many times where I felt the pressure of am I succeeding at being a mom and am I succeeding at being an employer, and sort of the clash there. But I think that so many people at home were going through the exact same thing. And what I learned was that really you just have to set boundaries and be intentional with your time. So, I had to accept the fact that there were times where I was going to be distracted and only half wearing each of my hats. And that’s OK. But to find pockets in my day where this is when I’m going to focus on work and then this is where I’m going to put my phone down, have dinner time, have that bath time, bedtime focus, be fully present and then make the sacrifice of kind of coming back to my desk after hours and making sure that everything got done for the day. So, again, just really kind of knowing when I was going to be all in on each of my roles so that I didn’t have to worry, or feel guilty in the inevitable moments where you’re on a resume call and your kid is coming over and asking for a snack or the baby’s crying or whatever it is. And I think in general, people became much more empathetic to that in 2020. I think dads had that struggle as well. And I think everyone kind of witnessed it on Zoom and realized that how much parents have to do outside of just having a career. And I think that everyone kind of supported each other. So, people that had kids were like, I totally get it, it’s fine. And then people that didn’t have kids were saying, like, I have no idea how you’re doing this and surviving at home. So, there was a lot of support, and I think that almost kind of made it so that the jig is up. We can all we can all understand what it is to be a parent and an employee.
DOUG: And dads have always historically had the leeway to be both a good employee, good worker, as well as a good parent without sort of the challenges and judgement upon that being a provider is considered part of being that good parent dynamic. So, I think women might be able to have that same slack as we evolve to a more open thinking way of looking at that.
ALYSON: I saw this meme that went viral that said, women are expected to work like they aren’t moms and then mom like they don’t work. And that just, I think, really hit home for me because it was pre pandemic I did feel that pressure. And I think now that we’re in this new normal that’s going to, like you said, that’s going to evolve. I also often find myself asking, like, are we working from home or are we living at work? I can’t really tell the difference, but, we’re all in it together.
DOUG: Yeah. And you’ve also put an emphasis… your agency has a focus on lifestyle and fashion, which can add a layer of difficulty because those are industries that were hit particularly hard as the pandemic started.
ALYSON: Yeah, absolutely. I think for all of our clients, we had to again, I think “pivot” was the word of 2020, right? But what emerged, though, was that more than ever, I think media relations and influencer marketing were more important than ever because people were living online and spending so much time on their devices. So, the strategies changed, the plans changed, and the products that we were emphasizing changed. But I think that, again, those two areas of what we do were crucial.
DOUG: You try and also build leadership throughout your organizations, and you’ve created something called the CAMP3 initiative, which you’ve done for a number of years. Can you share a little bit about how that works? I think there’s a lot of ideas that other organizations could take from it to grow leaders.
ALYSON: Absolutely, yeah. I think there’s a false perception in maybe the fashion and beauty industry in particular that it can be sort of a very cutthroat industry to break into. And so, we wanted to kind of flip that and make it more accessible to people and really bring what our agency culture is to life, which we’re all about, building each other up, supporting each other and kind of diffusing the competitiveness that can come with agency life. So, we launched CAMP3, It’s a complementary PR boot camp for students, in 2017. And basically, we open up our doors for a week and we teach. And what I love about it the most is that everyone in our organization gets involved, whether they’re an entry level employee on up to myself, we all kind of take a topic, teach these students, and that gives me a lot of pride to see the younger employees at our company really getting to step into that leadership role. But I think they bring so much to the table in really being able to relate to these college students as they’re navigating how to get internships and how to score an entry level position. They were just there, and so, they have a lot of really relevant insights to share.
DOUG: And sustainable development is a very important issue in the fashion industry, is somewhat controversial in being an agency that has a purpose is also critical to success. You sort of combined both of those initiatives. Can you share a little bit about that?
ALYSON: Yeah, the timing of that was really interesting. At the end of 2019, we announced a new division we were launching called AMP3 Impact. We went live with it in January 2020. And really it was us coming out and making a pledge that by the end of 2021 we hoped to have all of our clients have some element of impact. And so, sustainability is a hot topic in fashion in particular, but it goes beyond that. And there’s a lot of, I guess, concerns around sustainability because it means something different to everyone. So, what we took was the word impact. How is a brand doing something to make a difference and just be good citizens? So, impact for us is sustainability, philanthropy and equality. And then we really looked at each of our clients and how we could help support in those areas and bring those initiatives forward. So, we actually partnered and we are aligned with the conscious fashion campaign, which is basically an organization working with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. So, there’s 17 of those goals. You can look at it on their website, and it again, it ties back to gender equality, racial equality, water consumption, environmental issues, all kinds of things. There are 17 goals, and what we’re trying to do is help our clients to work towards as many of those goals as possible.
DOUG: And it seems like you’ve taken some great steps on behalf of your clients to make sure they communicate authentically on subjects that really matter to the audiences out there. I think great takeaways for the folks who watch this video conversation.
ALYSON: Yeah, and I think it was just interesting because we couldn’t have foreseen everything that was going to kind of explode in 2020. But I think now it really has become not just a marketing tactic to be giving back, or having a sustainability element. I think the consumer really demands that brands have transparency and that they’re doing their part to make the world a better place.
DOUG: That’s awesome. Thanks so much for participating.
ALYSON: Thanks for having me.