Zehnder Communications, Inc.

City Business Feature: New Orleans is a City of Hope

Published in New Orleans City Business on July 1, 2020, our President and Executive Creative Director, Henry Chassaignac, talks about what we've learned about ourselves and our city during the recent pandemic. 


Hope. It’s something we all need, especially during times of crisis. With the uncertainly of the current global pandemic and the constant worries surrounding our physical and mental health, hope is important now more than ever.

There’s something unique about New Orleans that inspires hope, even in the grimmest of circumstances. It’s part of our culture, and it’s what draws so many people to our city.

This culture of hope is what helped our ad agency survive the impact of Hurricane Katrina. We found that our business grew stronger as we learned to adapt, embrace change and view the crisis as an opportunity to become better.

In today’s pandemic, we find ourselves in a similar position. We face uncertainty as we learn to social distance rather than second line. Our masks have changed from Mardi Gras to N95. And we don’t know when we’ll be able to go marching back into our workspaces. But we trust the values that guided us in the past, and we’ve found inspiration by fostering our culture of creativity.

Not unlike most companies, we rely on technology to connect with our teams in meaningful, and even fun ways. From the moment we instituted work from home in March, we began holding weekly, companywide video calls. We needed to see each other’s faces, and we prioritized personal interactions to reinforce how essential our culture is.

Early on, we incorporated department-led entertainment into our meetings, beginning with a lip sync video created by and starring members of our Creative Department team. This launched some funny, and sometimes even strange, original activities. We’ve seen our staff create online trivia games, a virtual whodunit and video scavenger hunts, plus a mockumentary project centered around an old inside agency joke.

These silly moments of respite have provided much needed mental breaks, reinforcing the goodwill, good humor and support resonating throughout our teams. They have put our culture into action, which has been good for our staff, and good for our business.

Research from our project management team shows that during the pandemic, internal emails have decreased in favor of telephone and video calls, and our teams are connecting on more personal levels with one another and with clients.

We can’t sugarcoat the seriousness and enormity of this global pandemic, nor can we predict how long the effects will last. But just as Katrina provided us with deep experience in surviving crisis, I believe that our agency, and our city, will come out of this current crisis with more seasoning, which will help to make us stronger.

At Zehnder, our mission To Do Great Work, Make A Difference is guiding us through the challenges we all face during the ongoing pandemic crisis. We are rooted in New Orleans, and we strive to reflect the creativity and culture of caring our city is known for. I believe our shared culture is what gives us the hope we need to get us through the days ahead.


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