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September 24, 2020 • News

Interview with Jon Kelly, Managing Director at Meet & Potato

Age-old fatherly advice and technology enabled live events and communications specialists, Meet and Potato to not only cope with the pandemic, but to rethink their long-term strategy. As the threat of lockdown grew, Managing Director Jon Kelly began to put into place a plan that had its roots in the wise words of his father.

“My dad always used to make me think about the worst-case scenario in every situation and I would think he was being too negative, but something obviously rubbed off. said Jon.

“As soon as the early news reports about what was happening in China started coming through, I knew we had to be ready. I quickly made sure everyone had remote access to the server and phone systems, all the necessary software required to work successfully from home, as well as the knowledge and support to make everyone feel comfortable in using them efficiently.”

Technology has made switching to working from home much simpler for everyone

Jon said: “I have been banging the technology drum for some time now, and systems such as Paprika, are designed to simplify life, making it more straightforward and putting an end to mountains of paperwork. It’s helped us enormously, effectively freeing up people to work more efficiently.”

Look at your strengths

When lockdown was imposed, Meet and Potato went from a forecast £3m turnover to suddenly having clients contacting them for advice on how to handle the situation, unsure if they could still go ahead with event plans. Should they try to carry on or put them off?

Fortunately, everyone was in the same predicament, so venues and suppliers understood the situation and the majority of contracts were shifted to next year. But with a lot of uncertainty around the events industry, lockdown prompted Meet and Potato to look at their strengths.

“As communications specialists, creative video production and brand promotion has always been a part of what we do,” said Jon.

“It’s clear to us now more than ever that communicating with your audience is the most important thing in these unprecedented times. We know what will impress them and how to make everyone feel comfortable with the delivery. We’re experts in making people feel like they’re part of something exciting.”

“To help people understand the potential of virtual and hybrid events, we produced a video to showcase our professional broadcast studio and which demonstrated how an online event can look and feel."

"It’s cleverly edited to cut out a lot of the typical conference content that people often struggle to watch and listen to for large chunks of time. I believe online events should be interactive, vibrant and fun so we aim for shorter, snappier content with very high-production-values.

Viewer participation is key for the live elements and should be combined with engaging pre-recorded content that an audience can access in their own timeWe encourage people to be participants rather than spectators, but the important thing is finding an authentic method of communication that is meaningful, has impact, and raises the game way beyond emails and Zoom calls.”

Jon goes on to add, “Virtual events positively impact on our carbon footprint too, you eliminate the cost of delegate transportation and accommodation, not to mention the time employees spent away from the office. It’s a win, win situation.”  

A new flexible working environment

Meet & Potato is currently not working to full capacity having furloughed some of its staff. For those who are working, the days begin with a call to catch up on the progress of projects and to allocate any tasks. After that the team is free to manage their own time and workload. Individuals can structure their day to spend more time with family in an effort to create a better work-life balance and to help people stay physically and mentally healthy.

Jon explained: “As long as the work is done, I don’t mind how people organize their days. We have to understand this is our new normal, so employers need to trust their team and see the benefits of a more flexible working environment. I believe this will ultimately impact our long-term success.”  

“Everything has moved on at such a pace but there’s no doubt we still need to get together just to talk and to bounce ideas off one another, but whether we do that in an office, a shared work space, in the local park, or at someone’s house over coffee, honestly makes no difference.”

“The lease on our office has come to an end, it’s been liberating to cut that overhead out of the business, and it’s given us the space to think and plan for the future. Maybe we won’t need an office, or maybe we’ll take a smaller office at a time when competitive rents create a more attractive proposition.”  

Change is good, even when it is forced upon you. It’s all about having a positive mental attitude and a willingness to adapt. It helps that our agency is small and agile, so we acted quickly, shifting our focus from live events to another of our key strengths - creating really great content. Whatever the future holds, we all still need to communicate with others, and we’re here to make sure that happens in the most creative and cost-effective way for our clients.”


Jon Kelly MD