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Business Observer Wednesday, Jun. 10, 2020 2 months ago

Media firm founder looks forward to return of live events

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Jessica Eckley founded Crackerjack Media in 2014.
by: Mark Gordon Managing Editor

Executive: Jessica Eckley

Firm: Crackerjack Media; founded in 2014 as Eckley Media

Employees: Five

Working situation: We designed our business to primarily be work-from-home or collaboratively executed in client environments. So we've been fortunate that the transition was not a difficult one for our team. We've continued to work-from-home during the COVID-19 period.

Biggest WFH or WFO challenge: Sometimes the biggest work-from-home challenge has been embracing the juggle. The first few weeks included the balance of competing work schedules and home-schooling. It was a strain on both my time and attention that I know many clients experienced as well. Amusingly, I took a business approach by filling my daughter's phone calendar with appointment reminders for each virtual class, links and assignments. 

Most important business lesson you've learned in the shutdown: Even when the world is slowing down, you must keep pushing forward to be as proactive as possible for your clients. Face-to-face interactions and out-of-home habits changed daily. We quickly adapted campaigns to help foster digital or virtual engagement, connected clients to community partners in need and even worked with local groups to support social distance messaging.

How far out into the future are you looking for the business? We have to remain flexible to serve our clients' changing needs. A large portion of our clientele is in the sports and entertainment industry, and currently, live events represent one of the most extended recovery timelines. We're working with partners on how to best adapt to meet changing safety recommendations, remain connected with audiences and drive their business forward. For many, that means examining late fall 2020 and early 2021. 

What marketing trend will last beyond the COVID-19 pandemic? COVID-19 has inspired an enhanced focus on social responsibility and corporate action. We've seen brands quickly pivot campaigns to highlight community commitment and create more authentic connections.

What's the biggest marketing fad right now you'd like to see go away? That's tough! Although I've enjoyed the Facebook and Instagram Live options presented by both brands and artists, I'd love to see that go away. It would be a sign of the shift toward in-person gatherings again.

How do you maintain your spirit/morale during these tumultuous times? If I'm working, you'll typically find me playing music in the background. It helps keep the spirit up. The lockdown has also given us more time together at home as a family. Whether playing with the dogs or completing a new project, we've made the most of it. 

Books, articles, TV shows, podcasts and/or audiobooks you've focused on: Our business relies on staying current, so most days, I'm catching up on daily news, articles and insights. My free time has allowed me to participate in several webinars and courses offered by industry organizations and universities. I have to admit, I've found time to binge-watch plenty of programs, too. "Schitt's Creek" and "Ozark" were both fantastic this season, and I just finished "Defending Jacob."

Exercise or stress relief have you've turned to during the crisis: Being home makes it tough to stay motivated. I've tried to mix up my exercise routine – from lifting weights to yoga classes via Zoom and even jumping on the Peloton. I've found ways to burn my extra energy. 

Last trip out of the house: I had lunch at Forbici, and it was my first dining experience at a restaurant in a while.

What are you most looking forward to post-lockdown/pandemic? I'm a big believer that sports and live experiences help unite communities, push past crises and heal. As an events-focused agency, I'm most looking forward to Tampa Bay welcoming back its residents and visitors to our community's next big event. Whether I'm there as a guest or as part of a team working behind-the-scenes, you can bet I'll be watching the fan-experience and how they're enjoying socializing with others again. 

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