Technology, Innovation and the New Normal with Ahmad Sayar, SVP, Growth, Colossal Media

Are there any new policies that your company/agency has put in place to help keep employees inspired during this time?
This is a great question. When the stay at home orders were put in place, the Colossal Media leadership team spent some time thinking about how we can continue to keep our staff inspired and motivated while everyone is remote. Let’s face it; staying inspired while working remote is a skill that not many people are capable of mastering. Coupled with the emotional repercussions of the pandemic, it was important for us to focus on our employees’ well-being if we wanted to succeed during these challenging times. Trying to balance working remotely with the negative pressures caused by the pandemic, like protecting health, the tanking economy and job security can be extremely stressful. Our goal was to promote wellness, inspiration & motivation by staying calm, making safety the #1 priority, investing in employee development and reorienting tasks and responsibilities. Colossal prides itself in our amazingly transparent culture and we used these unsettling few months to provide reassurance, empathy, structure and individualized open dialogue for our employees.

What kind of technology do you think has become more popular in the advertising space due to COVID-19 and do you think it’ll continue to remain popular beyond COVID-19?
The technology certainly isn’t new, but for the OOH industry, the reliance on location data has never been more important. At Colossal, we’re making the necessary investments to increase our data capabilities and are closely monitoring location data as it inches closer and closer to pre-COVID levels. The eventual return of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, along with its corresponding impression levels, will represent a huge step towards reestablishing the trust and credibility that the industry has worked so hard to achieve. The injection of location data is a huge reason for the immense growth of the OOH industry over the last several years and it will be crucial for its rebound and continued growth in a post-COVID world.

Has your company/agency developed any local creative initiatives to support the community?
Absolutely. Colossal Media’s historical success has been predicated on our deep-rooted ties to local communities.  We have inventory in the hottest neighborhoods across the country, and therefore, on a creative level, we felt it was important for us to show gratitude to our neighborhood’s unsung heroes. On one of our premier walls, located in the heart of Williamsburg at 95 N. 10TH street, we’ve painted a heartfelt “Thank You” message to Brooklyn and showcased a number of local businesses and people that deserve high praise for the work they are doing. That included the Wythe Hotel, who is providing free hotel rooms and meals to nurses and doctors who are fighting the virus at nearby Woodhull Hospital. Mario Salerno, the Brooklyn landlord that waived rents for hundreds of his tenants. And even Jimmy’s Diner, who lent their kitchen to the North Brooklyn Angels who are using it to prepare meals for those in need. Additionally, we’re working with a number of brands on painting massive “Thank You” canvases to be donated to hospitals and businesses, with a portion of the proceeds going towards the brands charity of choice. Local communities have been good to us over the years and so we’re doing every bit that we can to try and pay it forward.

As May is Mental Health Awareness month, how are you creating a healthy + supportive remote working environment for your teams in this new normal?

It ties back to my answer to question #1. Maintaining a transparent culture that allows for open dialogue has proven to be really effective for Colossal. For many employees, just being able to relieve tensions and provide solutions through open dialogue is a gift that allows them to dive right back to work. A perfect example could be a working parent that may need to shift their hours so they can provide child-care because their nursery is closed or who is home schooling their children because of school closures. Or an employee who is caring for a sick relative and may need to work in a different manner. Compassionate listening and open dialogue allow for safe sharing and promotes peace of mind, while also creating a positive work environment.