Written by a marketer on furlough.


Marketers: The Furlough Hanging Fruit

I put down the phone and immediately poured myself a gin and tonic… ashen-white, my fiancé ran up to me to see if I was okay (I think he thought someone had died) but the reality was that I’d just received the news that I’d been furloughed.

 You might be asking yourself why was I getting so upset about something that millions of other people are going through? That we’re in the middle of a pandemic and there are far worse things going on (Get a grip for god’s sake!).

Well, the reason I was totally and utterly destroyed, is because I was the only person in my company to be furloughed.

As a one-person-marketing-band, you have to be everything to everyone at all times. On a Monday I might be a videographer, on a Wednesday I could be writing press releases or planning an event and by Friday I’m usually the resident receptionist, trying to locate printer paper for the CEO – aka Director d**khead.

I’m sure that there will be hundreds, if not thousands of marketers out there in my shoes – working for a company that does not see the value in marketing under usual circumstances – let alone during a crisis.

After finding out the news, I went through an accelerated version of the grief process, which I’m sure many others will have too. Mine resulted in two broken nails and one broken marketer, let me explain.

Denial: “They can’t possibly be furloughing me?”

I spent the first couple of hours cackling to my partner like a woman-possessed – think Ursula from The Little Mermaid and you’ll be on the right lines. I’m pretty sure this is a normal defence mechanism when something happens out-of-the-blue. It was a buffer to numb all the other emotions which were waiting to burst out of me. This was definitely the most enjoyable of the five phases.

Anger: “How dare they furlough me?!”

Three G&Ts in and the switch was utterly flipped… I spent the next forty minutes pacing around the kitchen like a lunatic, throwing out swear words like confetti at a wedding – This is where nail number one snapped like a twig. My brain just couldn’t compute what had happened.

I’d been told that all the traditional methods of winning new business had been exhausted and that’s why I was being furloughed… “So what you’re saying, is that your only method left of winning new business is through marketing and you’re throwing that in the bin? Good one Karen!” (Disclaimer: I don’t work with a Karen)

It makes me so mad, that at a time when businesses should be stepping up their marketing efforts and keeping their brand alive, they’re treating marketers as an overhead simply because they’re not a fee earner.

Bargaining: “Maybe if I’d worked harder they wouldn’t have put me on furlough?”

This was the start of my walk into the big black hole that would now fill my existence. I spent so much time going over and over the most recent weeks in my head. “Could I have done something differently?” or “Maybe I should have provided them with daily updates on our analytics instead of weekly?” I began second-guessing myself, wondering if I was actually any good at my job… imposter-syndrome was setting in fast.

Depression: “I’ve already watched Tiger King twice so what am I going to do?”

The reality started dawning on me that I was going to have absolutely nothing to do for the foreseeable future, and of course, the worry started creeping in that I may be made redundant at the end of all of this anyway. I started crying and at one point I wasn’t sure where my tears ended and the gin began. This is when I started thinking about how I was going to pay my bills or the fact that we may have to use our house deposit savings to cover our outgoings – Nail number two broke here and only added to my downward spiral.

 Acceptance: “Tough times don’t make you, they uncover who you truly are.”

By now we’d run out of gin in the house and I’d calmed down a bit. Everyone knows that marketing is always the first department to have their budget cut when money is tight, it’s a tale as old as time. I’ve accepted the fact that when (if) I return to my job, there will be a massive clean-up job. I’ve learnt a lot more about the company I work for and the value of my position there. I’ve acknowledged that although I’ll have a lot of time on my hands now, that it’s nothing that a few LinkedIn courses and sunbathing in the garden won’t fix. I’m going to use this time to close any skills gaps I have and once this crisis is over, I’m looking forward to explaining to my manager why I’ll be looking for a new role in a company that both understands and values the job that I do.

Final Words of Wisdom

If you read this article hoping for a reassuring  bedtime story then I’m sorry to disappoint and you probably should have stopped reading a while ago. If you’re a marketer and you’ve been furloughed then my advice to you right now is… Stay home, get drunk and enjoy the lie-in.

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