By Yoko Inoue
Kile Kommunikation is one of those small companies that suddenly lost their income source when the pandemic hit. But Rebekka Knudsen, Founder of Kile Kommunikation, used the occasion as a time for reflection and managed to create new projects using her own voice.
On September 16, Rebekka appeared as the fourth guest of “Republikken Talk,” a series of talks where ten select people share how they responded to the pandemic by rethinking their business to survive the crisis.
Photo Oskar Cornelius
Lockdown created plenty of time to reflect
I have been in the communications business for 20 years, and I mainly made a living from strategic speech writing. I have helped CEOs sharpen their speeches, and when they didn’t have anything to say, I had to find a message for their speeches. Public speaking is about changing people’s minds. I advise people to use the speeches in a strategic way to make important announcements.
When the lockdown started in March of 2020, it was pretty much the end of my primary source of income. There was no big conferences or public events where I could have helped with speech writing. In the beginning, I tried to transform my speech writing business into online events. But most of the organizations quickly realized that their CEO looking down and reading from prepared talking points was not working. The voices became even more monotone when they sat down, and everyone took a nap.
Then what about writing nice articles for clients? Well, my client’s organizations often have huge communications departments, so they didn’t really need me for that either.
So I opened a bottle of red wine, and then opened another. Nothing really came out of that, so I just sat there with plenty of time to think.
Photo Oskar Cornelius
Finding new skills and my own voice
Louis Pasteur used to say, “Fortune favours the prepared mind.” I thought this might be the case. The key is to be open to alternative possibilities.
Four things happened simultaneously. First, the extra time allowed me to finish a book that I had tried to write for a while. It is about the Imposter Syndrome, and the book got a lot of coverage by newspapers, TV, and what turned out to be a turning point — radio. Radio stations kept inviting me, and I realized that I had a voice that fits, and I loved to talk. I discovered a skill that I didn’t know I had.
Also, while writing, I started to remember my forgotten skill. I used to work at the Danish Parliament for a political party and would take on ten different subjects in one day. I would write proposals about shipping taxes and then record a song against the war in Iraq with a rapper, then organize a party convention or research injustices in Malawi. I used to have flexibility of mind instead of focusing on one topic and one kind of business.
The third thing was to remember why I wanted my own company in the first place. I used to work for big names to make them shine, and I was fed up with that. It made me feel like I didn’t control my own life. But I realized what I had been doing at my company was to continue working for other people and waiting for them to give me assignments. Whereas writing a book made me feel like I had finally delivered my own thing. It was my own voice. I decided to be less of a consultant and more of an entrepreneur. Instead of looking for clients, I looked for control.
It all came together with a podcast project
The last thing I did was to reach out and team up outside my field. One evening I got an email from a foundation that offered funds for energy-related projects, and the deadline was in two days. Suddenly, it all came together — with my new radio voice, forgotten flexibility skill, and my urge to gain control of my own life — what I wanted was to help people understand why making a green transition is crucial. This way, I could move people’s minds to issues I care about.
So we wrote a project proposal, and we got the funding for a podcast project named “Chasing Smart Energy.” It’s my own voice, my own products. And the project is fully funded, which is nice. Speech writing has come back a little bit nowadays, but I’m definitely going to continue in the realm of making my own things. It gives me more flexibility and much more satisfaction than watching CEOs deliver my speech. The Coronavirus forced me to dig into my resources and put them together to create this new product.
So thank you, Coronavirus, for changing my business.