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Adapt & Conquer, but Stay Home

Deep down, I thought we would return to campus after spring break. I thought that this virus would miss us, like when the weatherman gets the forecast wrong. I was hoping things weren’t going to end up the way they were being predicted. But here I am, coming to you from my mom’s house in Martinsburg, West Virginia, where I will be finishing my undergraduate work instead of on campus in Morgantown.


BrandJRNY is not intended to be done online; it requires face-to-face communication (or so we thought). Like our brand manager Hannah Williams put it, we relied on seeing each other, being able to thrive off each other’s energy, and knowing when someone was struggling even though they hadn’t said it. That was our work dynamic in BrandJRNY on campus.


At our first virtual meeting, Dr. Colistra made a profound comment: our field is extremely unpredictable, and we have to be flexible. She assured us that we were going to be okay, which coming from her is comforting because she doesn’t sugar coat things. After that, I had a new outlook on the situation we were in, and I remembered that we have to continue our work as planned.


Along with being flexible in our field, it is just as important to be one step ahead. And I will say, we were two steps ahead without even realizing it. Here’s how:

1. Slack

Slack is a communication tool literally created for remote work. Slack is the “bread and butter” of communication within BrandJRNY. We have nineteen different channels of topical communication for each team member’s role: social media, advertising, website development, even a “random” channel where things can get ~weird~. Because we integrated Slack into our normal workflow, we can maintain a healthy, organized line of communication among the team. I also have the Slack app on my phone!


2. Monday.com

Monday.com is another tool that we use to keep our ducks in a row. It’s a task management tool used to stay on track and meet deadlines. As creative director, Monday.com has been my saving grace because we have so many deliverables to complete. Additionally, each deliverable requires numerous rounds of edits, team collaboration, and finalization. We can set priority levels for specific tasks, assign team members to a task, and check it off as “done,” which is the best feeling ever. In agency work, there is no such thing as being too organized!

Screenshot of our deliverables list | Source: Jessann Thompson

3. Zoom

I think everyone knows about Zoom now, but this tool has saved the day for BrandJRNY. Even though we can’t meet in person anymore, we can still see each other virtually, which counts for something. On top of seeing everyone’s smiling faces on-screen, we can also screen share! This means we can still receive lectures from Dr. C, have multiple sets of eyes on deliverables for edits, and work on writing and editing our campaign book. Although this was our first time using Zoom as a team, Dr. Colistra provided several resources, like tutorials and tips, to help us get comfortable with using this new software.


BrandJRNY Zoom Meeting | Source: Samantha Stocksdale

I strongly encourage you to check out these tools for team organization, collaboration, and communication. Try them out and see what works for you. The most important thing to remember is that nothing is going to be perfect, and some people learn at different paces. In any field of work, the best thing to offer someone right now is patience.



My name is Jessann Thompson, and I am the creative director for BrandJRNY’s Point Pleasant project. I’m a Martinsburg, WV-native, and soon-to-be 20-year-old college graduate. Follow me to get a closer look at my life and the work that we are doing to #BrandPointPleasant – @jessannthompson


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Housed at the WVU Media Innovation Center, BrandJRNY is a community branding initiative that is a grant-funded collaboration between the American Electric Power Foundation and WVU Reed College of Media.

The Initiative was previously funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation for our three pilot projects.

Original website designed by Mariah Elliott, under the direction of PI and Director Dr. Rita Colistra.

Photos and content may not be used without written permission by contacting brandjrny@gmail.com.

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