Founded by two brilliant women, Visionistas is the agency for companies that want to live social responsibility. They don’t just know what’s trending right now, they look to the future together with their clients. They tell us that they do a lot of analyzing, designing, consulting, and organizing. Now they also give us an interesting, smart interview about their strategy in the crisis and how they were able to further develop Visionistas.
What was your first step at the beginning of the crisis, what was the first thing you did and why?
Stefanie Summerauer: That was a brief state of shock. We had just planned a bigger festival. We didn’t know what Corona meant for us now: Can it no longer take place now, will it be possible again in the summer or not at all? We actually pulled the ripcord. We sat down and calculated what it would look like if it couldn’t take place, and we realized that was too big a risk for a company as young as ours. And we actually canceled our first big project at that time.
Anna Oberdorfer: Yes, there was a press conference, followed by a lockdown. No more events took place. We had to admit to ourselves: Our major project will not work in this form. Then we were more or less stunned for a week. We noticed that many people from the arts and culture sector were very badly affected. They were in such an extremely bad way because they simply no longer had any prospects: There was no talk of funding for artists at that point.
But then there was a digital event, am I right?
Anna: After some deliberation, we then spontaneously launched a digital festival. It was called HomeStage Festivals Actually, it was the first digital festival in Austria at that time. We had about 50 artists – streamed live over 3 days: authors, musicians, cabaret artists. We set up Crowdfunding and all proceeds went directly to the artists. That was very cool, it made the first real digital festival possible. A total of 41,000 people watched, which went down really well.
What else has changed about your strategy?
Anna: I got an offer to do crisis communications in the Coronavirus Task Fource. And after it became clear that many of our projects would be cut and we wouldn’t need as many resources, I accepted. Political communication has always fascinated me. To be involved in such a big challenge – yes, that’s what I wanted to do. I worked there for 3 months and Stefanie continued to run Visionistas practically on her own. The Ministry of Health “borrowed” me.
Stefanie: Our strategy changed because we focused more on digital communication projects and less on events. We learned that we should do more and more permanent things and plan much more long-term. When the Covid crisis came, it was only our first year as founders, so we just didn’t have the long-term approach to our work then. We adapted to that. The crisis forced us to build more foresight into our strategy.
What helps you the most or who do you ask for advice – who do you exchange ideas with?
Stefanie: Petra Wolkenstein from konsultori was very supportive and gave us an additional perspective. That is very important because in a company you often perceive things differently than from the outside. We received a lot of good input on the topics of target groups, strategy in a crisis, and positioning. The consulting helped us to see our own strengths.
Anna: I talk a lot with my parents, who have both been entrepreneurs for many years. They have a lot of experience.
What are you particularly proud of?
Anna: I am very proud that we have always kept going and persevered in the very difficult times. We value seriousness and believe in ourselves. It’s not always easy, so I’m proud that we always make it.
Stefanie: I think so too. This “sticking with it”, this not giving up is something to be proud of. Many people let themselves be intimidated. One of our great strengths is that we always look for a way and find it. We can go in a different direction or simply adapt.
If you could wish for one ability, what would it be?
Stefanie: I want to neutralize Co2, like a big green tree (laughs).
Anna: To be able to stop the climate crisis, yes, that’s a nice idea.
You’ve started a very good Podcast, from which one can take away a few important thoughts after each episode. How do you manage to stay so conscious and insightful?
Anna: What comes out of Visionistas is very important to us: that’s what we stand for. We’ve met a lot of interesting people through the podcast and we definitely want to continue that. Finding the balance between staying informed and still protecting our own well-being from too much social media is very difficult. What’s happening in society and politics is relevant and we should always be up to date.
Stefanie: It’s always a process where we just talk about the issues. We just deal a lot with socio-political issues and form an opinion together, so to speak. Then we take our already clear opinion to the outside world. That’s what’s special about us: We bring a lot of our values into our business. That’s actually the basis for our business. Values.