April 24, 2020

How To Put Your Best Virtual Face Forward

Remote broadcast interviews in the time of quarantine have been a mixed bag. Snafus include shadowy faces and blinding glares, and backdrops range from awkward basement walls to meticulously curated bookshelves. (See some of the best examples and worst offenders here). 

To help ensure our clients are prepared for their next live shot, GPG consulted with producers, on-air talent and frequent guests from many of the major networks to gain some of their time-tested tips and tricks when on camera

From setting up your space and checking your tech to some above-and-beyond suggestions for the perfectionists among us, we share the best practices for making sure your on-screen visual matches the sophistication of your insights in the age of at home production.

In short:

    • Elevate your camera to eye level
    • Look into the lens
    • Turn off other Wi-Fi devices
    • Don’t use earbuds
    • Use front-facing lighting
    • Avoid light or shadows behind you
    • Rugs can help improve sound
    • Man or woman, wear make-up

Find the full list here.

Oil In Trouble

How did “oil prices go negative” this week?

  1. COVID-19 has drastically reduced the need for liquid fuels worldwide. IEA predicts April’s demand for oil to be nearly 30% lower per day lower than last year.

  2. EIA reports April gasoline demand in the U.S. had fallen by nearly 50% to a 50-year low, also impacting ethanol demand.

  3. The Russia-Saudi Arabia standoff flooded the market until a deal was reached. Adding to market pressure, Saudi tankers holding 40 million barrels are headed to the U.S. now.

  4. Refiners are running out of storage. The negative prices meant sellers caught with expiring futures contracts would pay a premium to rid themselves of barrels and avoid the anxiety of finding storage.

So what does it mean?

For the motor fuel industry: The oil sector has been riding high for years. Despite a bailout push, bankruptcies may be likely. Over 100 U.S. ethanol plants are fully idling or cutting production as biofuel prices slump to record lows. Rural economies, commodity prices, animal feed, and other markets will face impacts.

For climate: The drop in oil prices and the lull in emissions may help chart a path forward toward more stable, less geopolitically sensitive sources of energy. But a loss of low carbon biorefining capacity could mean a recovery built on higher carbon motor fuels.

For the world: Price crashes and production cuts will mean tough choices for oil exporters. Many are likely to curtail government spending, which could lead to social unrest.


COVID-19 By The Numbers

The Rites of Spring

May typically marks longer days, warmer weather and milestone events for graduates. And this year’s seniors are arguably hungrier for sage advice than ever (see one senior’s viral ask of President Barack Obama).

But institutions are postponing graduation ceremonies or moving them online, facing protests in some cases. 

Some are holding virtual commencements now and in-person events this fall. Others are going all-in remotely, with video collages, “yearbook pages” for each graduate and footage from seniors’ homes (see tips above). And Teen Vogue is hosting a virtual prom complete with makeup tutorials, celebrity cameos and DJ sets.

Other springtime rituals are blossoming digitally. The Kentucky Derby is postponed till September, but NBC will be airing its virtual Triple Crown race on Derby Day with a party featuring fascinator crafting, a singalong, and of course, cocktail recipes. The New York City Ballet is airing a curated online season with podcast commentary and master classes. And fashion influencers are hosting an unofficial Met Gala.

One thing to watch for: Ramadan began yesterday for the world’s 2 billion Muslims as restrictions on gathering remain in place globally. Whether officials will issue firm guidance around summer’s Hajj pilgrimage remains to be seen, but expect the popularity of apps like this one to grow.

Welcome to My World

From pitch meetings to happy hours, videoconferencing has become an invaluable resource to stay connected during the pandemic

But tuning into video calls has also meant giving colleagues and friends an unusually intimate window into our lives. These days, getting on a conference call is tantamount to letting a dozen coworkers or clients into your home, embarrassing fails and all.

Companies are astutely seizing the moment as a marketing opportunity and making branded Zoom backgrounds available to download. The backgrounds are an easy, fun and relevant way to engage with consumers and build brand loyalty

You can report to your colleagues live from the Carolina Panthers’ locker room. Or brief clients from your meticulously-appointed West Elm living room–nary a child to be found. Or raise a virtual glass from a galaxy far, far away.

If your home doesn’t look like an Architectural Digest spread, there are thousands of background options available to set some teleworking boundaries.