VaynerMedia Chief Heart Officer: Agency-client relationships will strengthen amid pandemic

"This is about transparency, vulnerability and being real," according to Claude Silver.

One of the drums Claude Silver beats all the time is about bringing humanity into the work space, and, "Boy oh boy, we need that when looking at a screen all day," she told Campaign US. 

The VaynerMedia Chief Heart Officer said that everyone in the world is going through a range of emotions right now due to the coronavirus crisis and social distancing, which is why "empathy and holding space for people is really important -- more so than ever."

When she starts any video calls, Silver said she tries to normalize the situation by starting the meeting with ice-breaker questions to remind everyone that they’re all human, unique and connected.

The fact that all people are adapting to the COVID-19 lifestyle will make for a more empathetic industry overall, according to Silver. 

"We are all living through this at the exact time in the Western world. We’re all watching the news, looking at our bank statements, seeing our friends getting laid off. There’s a humanness here that we’ve needed for so long," she said. 

Silver added: "Whether or not this is the universe’s karma or whatever it is, this is happening, and there’s an opportunity to continue that connectivity when we get back into the office and not to forget the union we made or that we’re all people, we’re all humans."

On the agency and client side, Silver said she believes relationships will mend because everyone has had to work in a much more transparent way in the last few weeks. Agencies know that clients can’t pay on time right now and that payment terms are different due to COVID-19, but agencies are also letting clients know that they need to stay afloat too. 

"This is about transparency, vulnerability and being real. My hope… and it’s more than hope, it’s a belief, is this will bring that relationship closer and it’s not an ‘us versus them’ thing or we’re not ‘in the service of’ going forward, but that it’s a partnership," said Silver. 

To help keep sane during social distancing - which will help drive empathy also - Silver advises stepping away from work and doing things off screen, such as cooking, meditating or anything creative. 

She added that people have to remember that they leave "a fingerprint or heart print" on every person they meet, whether that’s on screen or in real life. Because of this, Silver said everyone today should keep in mind the famous quote from Maya Angelou: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

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