How the PR Office’s Shimon Cohen takes the pandemic one month at a time

This PR leader agrees that the amount of time spent on Zoom has been the biggest change to adapt to during COVID-19. As for the future? He advises taking things slow.

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Predicting the future is hard at the best of times. When asked to look into his crystal ball for 2021, Shimon Cohen, founder & chairman of The PR Office, can’t help but point to how predictions made in January of 2020 went up in flames.

COVID-19 has made the future uncertain, but there are still plenty of trends worth watching—and savvy operators can hedge their best on what’s to come in the days ahead.

For Cohen, the trick is to take things one day at a time. Here’s how he advises thinking about the future of the industry, part of our ongoing “Day in the Life” series:

1. How much coffee do you drink during a day?

Cohen: Generally speaking, I drink two cups of coffee in the morning. My aim is not to have more. Then, I have a decaf espresso with a cigar before I go to bed.

2. Who is the most important person you talk to every day?

Cohen:  Most obviously and most clearly my wife!

3. How much of your day is spent on Zoom calls?

Cohen:  Far too much! On average, I spend around four to five hours a day on Zoom calls.

4. What’s a tool you couldn’t live without right now?

Cohen:  That would most definitely have to be my phone. I don’t really remember life before a mobile!

5. What’s been the biggest change you’ve faced since the pandemic started?

Cohen: How to work Zoom.

6. Are you still working from home? If so, what’s been your favorite part of WFH?

Cohen: Yes, The PR Office is still working from home. My favorite part about working from home is, I’m afraid, working from home! I quite enjoy it and find it very relaxing in that I have much more time by avoiding the daily commute. I also used to spend a lot of time overnight away from home before the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is lovely to have more time to spend with my beautiful family.

7. What’s your No.1 message to clients, co-workers or employees for the rest of 2020?

Cohen:  That The PR Office is open for business, has always been open for business and will always be open for business. We have embraced remote working extremely well and I am very proud of everyone at the firm for the way in which we have embraced this new way of working. Our creativity and enthusiasm have by no means been damped by this terrible period that we are living through.

8. What makes you hopeful about the future of PR? Any big predictions for 2021?

Cohen: I am incredibly hopeful and positive about the future of PR because everybody always needs to relate to their public. What’s fascinating about this COVID time is that, amongst a litany of negative concepts such as “lockdown”, “social distancing” and being apart from each other, communications has become even more important now than ever before – from international governments regularly speaking to the general public, from teachers to giving their lessons virtually to pupils via tablets and the Internet. People need to be in communication with each other. During this crisis, PR professionals have proved their worth and essential role in helping companies, public figures and governmental bodies to get their messages to their core audiences as efficiently as possible.

Regarding my predictions for 2021: that is a hard one. Had I been sitting here a year ago with the same question, everything that I would have said would be swallowed up by the pandemic. It is therefore a very difficult thing to predict. Yesterday, I was only telling my children, who are hoping to take their A-level exams in June next year, that June has no importance to them quite frankly. The rest of October is important. Once October is done, then November will be important to you – and so on and so forth. I think that where we are at the moment, anyone who predicts beyond the end of the week is a very brave person.

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