Industry Speak

Mandeep Malhotra

Co-founder and CEO
The SociaL Street

A good time to invest

"In a chat with allaboutoutdoor.com, Mandeep Malhotra, Founding Partner & CEO, The Social Street sheds light on OOH challenges after the lockdown."
April, 2020

First the slowdown blues and now the impact of coronavirus, the situation does not seem to be improving for the outdoor advertising industry. OOH is coming under pressure, and it will come under more if things do not improve because consumption is slowing down.

How is the Out of Home industry coping with the COVID-19 Stay at Home advisory?

The medium itself is called Out of Home. We are in a pandemic where we are advised (rightfully so) to stay at home. And so our business has dropped 100 per cent. It is a catastrophic stage, though thankfully temporary. There may be an opportunity in adversity, for once the entire Industry has come together, something we have been wanting to do together for ages.

Elaborate on the challenges brought by the COVID-19 lockdown, the strategies being used in these difficult times

Brands across the spectrum have discontinued or held back upcoming campaigns, advertisers are shying away from spending. We had almost 20cr. worth of signed PO's and business that pulled out within a fortnight. This is a similar story across agencies. I personally think though, this a good time to invest and not completely retract. It will reduce a certain level of mediocracy. While we need to reduce expenses, we also need to utilise this time to plan better & smarter.

I think this will take atleast about 6 months or so till we can see some sort of normalcy return. And once we are safely out and about, we hope to spring back. Much of the ad spending tends to happen in the typical festive/ holiday season in the latter half of the year.

What do you miss most -and least- about office?

Before the pandemic hit us, we unconsciously and unintentionally took a lot of day-to-day interactions for granted. I miss those interactions with everyone in office the most. Even though we connect on video calls regularly, the whole joy of being in office, brainstorming or simply sitting together for lunch is something that is surely missed. 

I least miss getting stuck in rush hour traffic 😊

How frequently do you check-in on your team? What's the ideal frequently, according to you?

Looking at the developing situation of the pandemic in March, we took a call early on to work from home, even before the mandatory lockdown. While teams were adjusting to the new normal, I made it a point to personally call each and every employee in the office to check on their wellbeing. We have put together a COVID crisis team to ensure positive mental health and deal with any necessary eventuality.

On the work front, I am in touch with my leadership team every alternate day. I look at this as a good time to consider reengineering the business - how to work smarter, plan better, use this time to further upgrade our skills and knowledge around the work we do.

How frequently should a team leader/manager check in on her/his team?
Our teams are pretty much connected throughout the week, work still carries on. We keep ourselves well organised with regular updates, excel reports, etc. so that everyone is in the loop and on the same page when it comes to work.

Team leads also apprise me regularly of anyone they think might be feeling vulnerable through these challenging times. I make sure to reach out to these team members at least once a week.

What's the one thing you see yourself doing differently once the work-from-home phase ends?

One thing I will do differently is to not rush back to the office. My work entails a lot of travel. So this lockdown has afforded me much more time with the family. Although I travel with them as much as possible, spending time at home is very different. My son is up for board exams in this academic year, so I'm much more clued in. I spend more quality time talking and watching movies with my teenage daughter. When I have some time to myself, I take up online courses to upgrade my knowledge on things. These are things that I hope to continue after this phase ends.

Interview by: Aarti Pahwa

Tags :  Mandeep Malhotra The SociaL Street Covid'19 OOH

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