2020 Wrap-Up: Our Top Stories About the Pandemic
This year, the still-raging pandemic has reshaped every aspect of our personal and professional lives, changing the world on a fundamental level and dominating the social and political landscape. So, in many ways, every story from March onward—even the most mundane—has been about the pandemic. The pandemic is the story.
That reality has been reflected in our content this year. The stories we'd normally write about a creative promotion or an effective sales tactic are now pandemic-tinged. Sometimes, the impact is subtle. Most times, it's obvious.
This is all to say, we wrote a lot of stories about the pandemic. For this wrap-up, we tried to select the ones that represent our most informative coverage and our best reporting—a mix of our most-read and our most important. There will be more stories to come about the pandemic. These are the top stories we've written so far.
This longform look at the challenges promo businesses faced as they shifted to selling PPE was one of our most-read stories of the year. We interviewed distributors and others in the promo space to find out how they were solving their early problems, what they were seeing in the market and what they expected as the year progressed.
2. 'If Anything, We're Worse Off': What's Going on With America's PPE Supply Chain (and How the Market Has Changed in Promo)
Our August magazine cover story looked into the complex reasons behind the PPE shortages health care workers across America were reporting as they braced for the inevitable COVID-19 resurgence—even as public officials downplayed the issue. We also followed up on the market for branded PPE to see how it had changed over time.
3. Promo Company Designed Banners for High School Athletes Who Lost Seasons Due to Coronavirus Outbreak
On March 30, the severity of the pandemic was just starting to become clear. In the search for good news, we found this story of a promo business that helped its community deal with the early fallout from the virus. We've since seen an outpouring of stories like this one—a testament to promo's ability to make an impact.
4. Vaccine Verification, No Paper Tickets: What Ticketmaster's Plan Tells Us About How Live Events Could Return
Ticketmaster revealed its plan for getting back to business once a vaccine arrives, giving us some hints as to what a return to live events could look like across industries and markets.
As states cautiously began to reopen their economies in late spring and early summer, we checked in with various people across the promo industry to see how things would be different in the immediate term—and how the pandemic might change the industry further down the line.
Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, and the pandemic led to plenty of both. With PPE essentially the only game in town for promo, we rounded up some of the most unique, creative and otherwise interesting items we found inside and outside the industry.
Our guide to face masks was intended to help promo businesses stay informed and identify the best options for their customers, but we're betting it also came in handy for personal use, too, as masks became the norm in most places across the U.S.
Early on, Brand Fuel's Danny Rosin wrote this article exploring the bigger-picture future of promotional marketing during and after the pandemic. Months later, some of his conclusions have already played out in obvious ways (the continued rise of branded masks and work-from-home products, for example), while others are only just beginning to show. All of it was spot on.
Supply has since caught up with demand, but for awhile there, hand sanitizer was almost impossible to find. We looked at the causes of early shortages and explored some surprising reasons why supply shortfalls were projected much longer than originally anticipated.
In this Insider article from the magazine, guest contributor Joshua White of BAMKO gave us an inside look at how his company found success during the pandemic and how other distributors could apply those strategies to their own businesses moving forward.
Throughout the pandemic, we've attempted to showcase promotional products success stories to show what's working and (hopefully) provide some inspiration. This one, a hat giveaway from Supercuts at a time when no one could get a haircut, was one of the best examples.
As we said, just about every story this year was about the pandemic, so there were hundreds we couldn't include here. If you're looking for more, try searching our news archive. Or, stay tuned for others coming in the future. Don't forget to check back in tomorrow for our next wrap-up.