Behind the Story: Candice Conti on Communicating Throughout COVID-19

After being assigned this project, my partner (Emma Kumagawa) and I searched and searched for a source who would be willing to partake and have their voice be heard. Right when we were losing hope, Candice Conti, the Marketing and Communications Director at the San Luis Obispo HotHouse, said she’d love to be our subject.

With COVID-19 taking over downtown SLO and closing down countless businesses, I was curious to find out how employees have been working from home, or if they have been unemployed until the shelter-in-place orders lifted and businesses went back to normal. I wanted to find out how middle aged to older demographics were handling everything regarding the past few months of absolute chaos. 

Our first interview with Conti provided us with some new insight into how she’s approaching the pandemic and what’s going on with the HotHouse, including its reopening on May 26. She told us that she’s still been working with her intern (remotely over Zoom calls) and the HotHouse’s Startup Accelerator program is still happening this summer. This includes the same entrepreneurial guidance, mentorship, workshops, and money as before, everything would just be virtual. 

“This is history that we are living through. We’re going to learn from this and we’re going to move forward as a nation, as families, as friends, and as people in general and be more cautious, be more educated, and just make better choices as we move forward,” Conti said confidently.

As the audio/video and interactivity component coordinator for our two-person team, Emma Kumagawa went through the two recorded Zoom calls we had with Conti and put together a video capturing Conti’s bubbly personality and how she’s staying optimistic about the future, and what positive changes could come from the coronavirus. She also created an audio slideshow featuring hothouse innovators giving advice for getting through challenging times.

“I really enjoyed talking to Candice and taking a deep dive into the local entrepreneur world. Even in the most challenging of times, the HotHouse is still adapting and progressing. I think it’s a huge source of inspiration to look towards when work gets discouraging,” Kumagawa said.

As the strategy/engagement and word coordinator for this project, I’ve really enjoyed the experience and structure of the course. I was skeptical about how we would be able to fully report and capture a pandemic virtually,  but I think the virus has been a “blessing in disguise.” It’s given me a sense of what it’s like to be a journalist right now, and I have gained countless skills. We appreciate the time and energy Candice gave us, and we hope her story will answer questions some might have about the HotHouse or SLO businesses in general.