The Last Few Months From a Marketer Mom Who Had Covid-19

What it's like being a parent in media and marketing during the pandemic

Cecilia Pagkalinawan and her son on swings
Many moms are in the same boat of finding pandemic parenting challenging. Cecilia Pagkalinawan
Headshot of Cecilia Pagkalinawan

I got Covid-19 from a party I attended on March 7, which turned out to be a super spreader with more than 40 people dancing together prior to lockdown being implemented in New York City. Fortunately, I had mild symptoms that included a sore throat, fatigue and lost of taste and smell.

Marketers need to develop a whole new skill set for their clients post-Covid. Consumer mindset is in a tough spot right now full of worry, anxiety and uncertainty. We cannot ignore that many consumers may have lost jobs, have reduced income and may have lost loved ones during the pandemic. Many are craving connection, seeking self care and wellness tips and are putting family and loved ones above all.

In April, I conducted a marketing workshop attended by 20 moms who were working from home. Many had left the city with their children for safer and more spacious locales at either second homes or with their parents and in-laws. More than ever, community and connection was needed as marketing moms expressed their concerns about the economy being at a standstill and clients becoming frozen and unable to proceed with projects as planned. It was clear that many of us were in the same boat finding our lives as working moms even more challenging during the pandemic.

Many brands that have not done internal rebrand and messaging work yet are sounding trivial, superficial and tone deaf, while others that have thought it through and have done the work appear more sincere in their communications and are connecting with customers like these moms.

Cecilia Pagkalinawan dropping her son off at Penn State University.Cecilia Pagkalinawan

After being tested positive with Covid antibodies in June, I decided to go to Tulum with my son Mateo. Five months later, here we both are, arriving at Penn State University. As a parent during a pandemic, we are faced with questions such as, “Should my child still go to college, or should he take a gap year until the pandemic is under control? Will the school he is attending have proper medical care and professionals to care for him should he get sick?”

For the more than 98,000 enrolled students here, the administration has implemented precautions, such as an app, personal bikes, dorm limitations and even a dopamine check. (Surveys have indicated that 25% of young people aged 18-24 have contemplated suicide during this pandemic.)

Brand messaging can be enhanced by incorporating empathy. A fine line to navigate is if customers may want to hear more of the reality around us or if they would prefer escapism. Consumer mindset seems at opposite ends right now depending on what media they are consuming and if they are absorbing good news or bad news daily.

I empathize with all marketing moms who now have to prepare—again. What skill sets do we need to develop to stay resilient and keep our clients relevant to consumers in a pandemic? As unemployment continues to grow and businesses shut down, how can we be supportive of one another as more women have lost jobs than men during the pandemic? As we ponder all these thoughts, I hope we all put our health and wellness of our families first. Then let’s put the best minds together, learn from one another and grow stronger than ever.


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@ceciliany Cecilia Pagkalinawan is CEO of BRWN Media.
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