By Megan Hamby, Editorial Director
 
Last week, I received a call from my son’s day care director: He had been directly exposed to COVID-19 and his class would be closed for two weeks. I was, of course, immediately worried about my son’s health. But, for a moment, I felt overwhelmed at the thought of working from home for two weeks with a 3-year-old.
 
But when a friend asked if I was taking any time off while my son was home, I explained that I had not even considered it—because I knew Hammock would be flexible with my schedule. There were no complaints from my coworkers when my new 3-year-old intern joined the weekly Zoom staff meeting, or uproar when I needed to step away for an hour or so to prepare lunch and get him ready for naptime. We did what we always do: We adapted to the situation at hand.
 
When COVID-19 forced us to switch to a work-at-home arrangement in March 2020, we adapted to Zoom meetings and Basecamp chat messages. When a client asked us to press pause on all previously planned content last year and focus instead on coronavirus-related content, we quickly switched gears and developed a new content plan. Over the past year and a half, we have helped our clients rethink in-person events and conferences; change their content strategies; and build relationships with their customers.

Flexibility has long been part of our work culture at Hammock—even before the pandemic. For example, I worked at home two days a week before it became mainstream. One of our project managers even works in another state! I believe this culture of flexibility and adaptability is part of what has made us efficient at responding to our clients’ changing needs. We don’t let challenges get in our way—we simply find a way to work around them.

But flexibility in itself―in scheduling, physical work location, technology use or anything else―is not enough if you don’t have the fundamental skills in place to do the job the right way in the first place. At Hammock, as we have weathered moves, personnel changes, shifting economic conditions and more, we have never abandoned our core principles and skills. Even before the pandemic, we had the processes and platforms in place to help our clients succeed and achieve their goals. We have always been storytellers at heart, and what we excel at is learning our clients’ “stories” (and bits of hard-earned wisdom) and helping communicate them to a target audience in the most relevant and useful way possible. 
 
We’re not the only ones who have adapted, of course. We have learned from others, and we hope that others have learned from us. And while adapting while staying true to your purpose can be a bit of a balancing act, we believe that we have found the right balance. If we can help you adapt to these continually challenging times, please reach out to us.

Photo: Getty Images



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Jeff Walter is the newest member of the Hammock editorial team, joining in March 2020—shortly after we started working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although he has been part of our team for more than a year, none of us have worked in the office with him! Before finding his home at Hammock, he worked as a copy editor for The Tennessean and its parent company, Gannett, for nearly 20 years. Jeff lives outside of Nashville with his wife, Carol; their dog, Sadie Mae; and their cat, Woodrow.

What is the first thing you do when you sit down at your desk each morning?

Before sitting at my desk, I sit in a recliner next to my desk, where I start my day with coffee and Bible study. Once I move to my desk, I check my work-related email and make my tentative plan for the day, based on whatever writing assignments I might be working on and any meetings that might be scheduled. I say “tentative” because things are always subject to change: a new assignment with a more pressing deadline, for example, or stories submitted by other writers that need editing.

What’s your favorite organizational tool, whether electronic or otherwise?

I would have to say my to-do list, which is a Google calendar. I have kind of a love-hate relationship with many electronic tools, including calendars, as they don’t always function the way I want them to function. But if I don’t put a task on some type of planner, it’s unlikely to get done.

If you could hop on a plane right now, where would you go?

By: Megan Hamby, Healthcare Editor and Writer

We know this is an unprecedented time in healthcare. As more Americans are diagnosed with COVID-19, the healthcare system grows even more overwhelmed. Many of you—whether you’re a nurse, physician, marketing director, social worker, therapist or vendor—are working long hours. Dozens of healthcare workers have fallen ill with COVID-19, and more have been quarantined after exposure.

Back in 1996, during the earliest days of the web browser, the magazine-business B2B magazine, Folio:, featured a youthful-looking custom publishing “pioneer” named Rex Hammock on its cover as part of a story on the nascent move by custom magazine companies into digital media. Earlier this week, 20 years later, the author of the first story, Tony Silber, caught up with Rex for an update on whatever happened to that thing called the internet.

Here’s Tony’s introduction to the updated Q&A with Rex. The full story can be viewed here.

In September 1996, nearly 21 years ago, Folio: published a cover story on the state of custom publishing. The article was organized as a quasi-Q&A, posing 10 questions custom publishers were asking themselves at the dawn of the digital age as their businesses were fracturing. Suddenly alien ideas like HTML — and alien platforms like Compuserve and America Online — were emerging, and print-based media services firms were worried about the impact on their business.

The article asked several custom-publishing sources to provide answers for each question. The most prominent of those sources was Rex Hammock, owner of an eponymous custom content agency, and one of the pioneers in a nascent market — using high-quality content in a magazine format as a communications vehicle for marketers. Hammock is also the founder of Rexblog.com, which goes back to the year 2000, and has been consistently and faithfully maintained in all those years — a rare accomplishment by itself, without even considering that it’s also been a media-business thought leader all that time.

Recently, Rex suggested to me that we revisit that Q&A, and try to make sense of the questions and answers from the nineties and seek their corollaries for 2017. The frequently fascinating results follow.

Continued | Foliomag.com

Happy Valentine’s Day! For the folks here at Hammock headquarters, today started like any other Tuesday. Well, that is, until a special visitor dropped by the office around 9:30.

If you know me at all, then you know I am a hardcore Nashville Predators fan. On the windowsill behind my desk, I have three signed hockey pucks, a miniature autographed helmet, a miniature autographed hockey stick, a sticker and two bobbleheads.

So imagine my surprise and excitement when Gnash—the Predators’ lovable saber-tooth tiger—entered the building dressed as Cupid. There was no doubt who he was coming to see—after all, who at Hammock loves the Predators more than me, right? It turns out my husband, Stephen, arranged this dancing/singing telegram more than a week ago. He called Natalie, our office manager, to check my calendar and make her aware that someone was coming by the office. 

Gnash danced as Frank Sinatra serenaded me from an iPod. He gave me a bag of Predators goodies, a box of chocolate, Popcornopolis popcorn and a Hat Trick bouquet (three red roses). We tried dancing, too, but I have to be honest: Dancing with a saber-tooth tiger can be a bit difficult. I have to say, though, that this may be my favorite gift ever. Stephen has never been able to surprise me with a gift, so this was the best. 

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t spend all of our time at Hammock Headquarters in downtown Nashville. When we’re not in the office, you can often find us spending time outdoors, watching a sporting event or catching a concert at one of many Nashville music venues.

Before and after hours, our fearless leader Rex enjoys riding his bike to and from the office. “I try hard to do it at least twice a week,” he says. “In 2017, my goal is three. I started doing this about four years ago and it has become a part of my life—a good part. And certainly one of the most fun parts—except when people blow their car horns at me.”

But Rex isn’t the only one who enjoys being outdoors. Our designers, Kerri and Lynne, both love staying active outside. Kerri likes to hike nearby parks and walk and run for exercise. In the summers, you can probably find her relaxing by the pool or spending time with her husband. Lynne enjoys biking with her friends, and she’s also an avid swimmer. Speaking of swimming, Lena does it weekly with a local swim team. She hasn’t competed yet, unless you count competing for craziest person ever by doing a polar bear plunge (water temperature: 38 degrees).