This post is part of our COVID–19 business stories series, where we share how different brands have responded to the pandemic. Tim Campbell (@timcampbellphoto) is a travel tourism photographer based out of Australia. He shoots commercial projects and sells oceanic art and like many other creative freelancers, has been hit hard by the coronavirus. Photo source: Tim Campbell We spoke with Tim about his efforts to spread a message of positivity and foster new connections, while trying to come out stronger on the other side of this pandemic. How has your company been affected by COVID-19? In what ways have you had to change your day-to-day business operations? I’ve had 90% of my work put on hold indefinitely which comprises project work and ongoing retainer contracts that are essential for cash flow as a freelancer especially throughout the winter months (I work primarily in tourism). How are you strategizing your brand messaging at the moment? I’m working to get my personality online as much as possible. As this situation evolves and the country moves to a more digital work life I believe it’s incredibly important to ‘humanise’ our online profiles as much as possible since building connections through person to person meetings just isn’t an option at the moment. @timcampbellphoto What is your current strategy for posting on social media right now? I schedule out posts every second day, a month in advance that aren’t likely to be misconstrued in relation to the rapidly evolving situation (general brand awareness stuff), and then I will try and fill the gaps with content relating to the situation as it stands during the current week. @timcampbellphoto Sometimes I can maintain a daily posting schedule, sometimes I can’t, but I absolutely notice the difference with daily activity so this is an area I would like to discipline myself on better. Are you changing how you market your business, or selling new products or services to meet changing market needs? Yes. Towards the end of last year I began filming vlogs which were incredibly well received and resulted in a huge amount of engagement and new relationships online which I also noticed translate through to the physical world. @timcampbellphoto People that I hadn’t met before would approach me and begin talking to me like we had a prior relationship and this included potential clients. I think the main reason for this beyond just publishing any video of myself online was the way in which I spoke in those videos; I’m very transparent, don’t sugarcoat things and am happy to present ‘hard truths’ to my audience in the world of photography. This is the default version of me so it’s effortless to maintain, and since it’s accelerating the growth of new relationships with potential clients I will be putting even more energy into vlog production. Long term trust is what I am after and I see no better way to build this in the digital world we’re currently restricted to. What trends are you seeing in your industry? Are there other brands you admire for what they’re posting right now? In regards to tourism, the best destination marketing campaigns I have seen lately have enticed the viewer to dream about their next holiday without any urgency to travel. It’s quite a delicate balance but have a look at Visit Portugal’s latest video, I think this message can be distilled down further to be communicated through smaller bite sized social media posts. In regards to individual photographers the people that are sticking in my mind (which is the goal isn’t it!?) are the folks who are putting in the effort to transcend the digital barrier with their personalities, the most powerful examples again involve vlogging or a stripped down version of it. Have a look at Scott Choucino, he is relatively new to the vlogging world but in 8 months he has built massive trust with his audience. How far ahead are you planning your customer communications right now? 1 month, I don’t have the energy or knowledge to plan out further in advance however I would very much like to work on this aspect of my business. Perhaps with the experience gained through the need to focus on scripted storytelling through video I will be able to address this issue. A final note from Tim. Whether you like to acknowledge it or not, we are about to witness a huge cleanout of our respective industries. Many businesses are going to go down and never come back up, so if you can keep your head above water for the time being and be ready for the recovery you could secure a huge competitive advantage with less businesses fighting for the same clients. Also, if you are working from home, feel isolated in your current workplace or even if anything hasn’t changed in your immediate situation but you now see a very different world outside you really need to be connecting with people at the moment, digitally. There are countless ways to engage with people online so put in the effort to make some new e-friends during this time, feel free to start with me, I’m an open book. Cheers!