When I landed my exciting new job at Midnight I was thrilled to bits at the chance to work for an agency I had heard great things about.
The work looked set to be interesting and varied, the collaborative agency culture sounded like the perfect fit and it looked set to be an amazing new home for me to progress my career, after more than ten years in journalism and five years working in agency PR. It was a great move.
Then six weeks in – the unthinkable happened. Coronavirus slithered its way across the globe and the world shut down. Looking back, it’s incredible to think that I started a new job, brimming with enthusiasm and then suddenly had to work from home in the confines of a small one-bedroom apartment.
Since then, we’ve been in an out of lockdowns like a Jack Russell down a rabbit hole. But it seems as I write that we may be approaching a finish line, with the promise of more vaccines than you could shake a stick at.
I am extremely grateful to work for an agency which has gone above and beyond to take care of our wellbeing while working during a global pandemic and for the ways it has looked to keep that strong agency culture alive despite the physical separation that now exists between us all. I am also thankful that I work in an industry which is so perfectly positioned to segue seamlessly into remote working.
I caught up with some of our colleagues and clients to find out what their experience of working with Midnight has been like during the pandemic. Here’s what some of them had to say.
Senior media consultant Chris Hatherall has spent many years working on national newspapers, working at home or on the road, rushing from place to place while searching for plug points in cafes and pubs.
He said: “Working at home in a pandemic is different. It’s good for concentration when you have a big task to complete, because it’s quiet, and it’s good for making your own timetable in between all the video meetings. But it’s not so good for being on your own all day in one room, without the ability to go and meet people, and knowing you’ll be in the same room when the day is over.
“Midnight made everything as easy as possible to work remotely and we adapted seamlessly. I’m thankful I live in Brighton where I can walk to the seafront every day. But I can’t wait to get back to the office and finally have an audience for my bad puns!”
Strong agency culture
In a time gone by, there would have been team regular trips to the pub and local restaurants and even a Midnight weekend away with previous destinations including Palma in Majorca. But for most of the year, we weren’t able to go further than the local supermarket for supplies. So how do you keep such a vibrant culture alive when you can’t go anywhere?
Jim Round, Senior PR and Video Manager said: “Our MDs Alex and Flo have been great. They arrange regular ‘pub’ sessions on Zoom where we all get to finish a bit early and have a drink and socialise.
“And we all communicate every day using video conferencing, both one-on-one and brainstorm sessions to keep the creative juices flowing. Our Christmas party was also outstanding, even though it was a virtual one.”
And Senior Account Executive Emma Hynes said: “We're very equal, it feels natural to ask someone how they're coping and have a chat even if they're technically senior to you. There has been a conscious effort too, from everyone thinking about how we can use our skills to make the business stronger, and wellness benefits and team meet-ups that definitely lift our spirits.
“Last month I was able to choose a new yoga mat made from sustainable materials that I wouldn't normally treat myself to because of our wellness benefit. It's the recognition of your personal interests and needs that makes Midnight really special.”
Missing the office
We’ve adapted, we’ve thrived and we’ve won a stream of new business thanks the agency’s broad sector experience, which encompass B2B professional services including law, accountancy and insurance, as well as logistics, property and construction and tech.
We’re very proud of the whole team for doing such great work during such a challenging time. But we are looking forward to being together again and seeing our clients face to face when it’s allowed.
Account Executive Megan Slaughter said: “As one of the more junior members of the team I have found working remotely to be a great learning experience. The change in circumstances meant having to adapt to an increased level of autonomy and, with the ongoing support of the management team, I have found the increased sense of responsibility to be extremely rewarding.
“But I miss the day-to-day general office chats and laughs and I actually miss my walks to and from work at the beginning and end of every day!”
Office manager Sally Scott said: “I miss having my ‘clients’ around me each day. By ‘Clients’ I mean the Midnight Team. I love being in the thick of it, ready to help, in spontaneous and often unpredictable ways! This makes each day fresh and different from the next.
“I also miss the simple rituals and routines of office life. Such as choosing my outfit for the day, my stroll through the North Laine, picking up a coffee in one of the fabulous cafes on the way, and arriving at our sunny office, to enjoy the ‘first thing in the morning’ banter with my colleagues, before getting stuck into the day. The odd group lunch or beers after work with everyone can’t come back soon enough either!”
While pandemic year meant many activities were off the table permanently, from stand-up comedy nights at Komedia, to jumping around at a gig at the Brighton Centre, one thing that has kept us going and given us all a sense of pride and achievement, is making our clients happy.
Clifford Thomas, The Letting Partnership, said: “I highly recommend the services of Midnight. As you might expect, they are highly creative and very well connected. In addition to this they are proactive, responsive and highly motivated to achieve success and smash our targets. They understand our business and are a pleasure to work with.”
Kirsty Hughes, marketing manager for law firm Trethowans said: “When I was tasked with finding a PR agency, I knew exactly who I wanted to work with. Having previously worked with Midnight, I knew from experience that their team would go out of their way to get to know Trethowans, the people in the business and what we have to offer.
“Although we’re based in the South, our clients are country-wide and with Midnight’s contacts they find us opportunity for coverage in publications across the UK, as well as boosting our regional presence. We take pride in working with like-minded businesses who exhibit similar values to our people, no nonsense and no egos. Midnight is a fantastic extension to our marketing team who exhibit those values too.”
By Samantha Clark