The Old Normal: A Look Back


(By Rick Fink) I wrote this column back on April 21, 2020. At that point, we were 6 weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic and the world we know had changed drastically in just that short time. It was interesting and fun to look at this old post and reflect on the things that were changing then and how they are today.

For starters, when was the last time you used the phrase “New Normal?” It’s a thing of the past and something you just don’t hear anymore.

Restaurants: COVID was going to kill the industry, but instead today, it’s hard to get into a restaurant.

Work from Home: Certainly, more people work from home today than during COVID, but the new rule is, “Get back to the office or risk losing your job”.

Video meetings: Or as they are branded, “Zoom Calls,” are still popular, but they have lost some of their luster. Need proof? Zoom had 331.3 million downloads in Q2 of 2020 and steadily fell to just 38.4 million in Q2 of 2023. Zoom’s share price has done the same. It was $559 a share in October of 2020, and for the last year, it hovers in the $60-$70 range.

Virtual events: Virtual seminars, conferences, and trade shows never did catch on and had little impact, with nearly all going back to live events.

Grocery shopping: Remember the one-way traffic arrows? They’re gone, and while BOPUS (Buy Online and Pick Up at Store) continues to grow, it’s a small fraction when compared to in-store shopping.

The elbow bump: Well, it was a shorter fad than the social media platform Myspace, and the good old handshake is back in fashion.

Now, what about the role of being a professional media rep? Has it changed? Slightly. You now have more “social and digital” products in your sales arsenal, but the sales process and what business owners want haven’t changed at all. They still want and deserve, 1) To know that you care about their success, and 2) IDEAS to help them grow their business.

When it comes to branding, top-of-mind awareness still rules the day. Share of voice will still equal share of mind, and share of mind will continue to equal share of market. Strategy wins, and great copy and production will generate great results.

I have never claimed to be a prognosticator, but my predictions, just 6 weeks in, were pretty spot on.

My next prediction? Regardless of how much hype the radio industry gives to podcasting (a topic for another day), I predict the weekly penetration level will never reach over 52%. Today, it stands at approximately 40% listen to a podcast each month.

Rick Fink from ENS Media can be reached at 605-310-2062 or [email protected]. Read Rick’s Radio Ink archives here.


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