May 1st, 2020

COVID-19 came with no warning and hit us like a tonne of bricks. We doubt that any business had included ‘pandemic’ on their 2020 marketing agenda!

The economic downturn is not expected to pick up until July at the very earliest and reports show that we’re facing the highest levels of volatility in decades. The likeliness of this continuing to affect our day to day business for the foreseeable future is extremely high which is why it’s important to adapt to these circumstances.

Communications should not be forgotten: if anything, its time to up your game! Adapt your marketing strategy to focus on this new way of working, keep your CSR hat on at all costs and ensure transparency with your employees – they need all the support they can get! Keep reading to find out more…

The new normal, communications during a pandemic.

We’ve been in lockdown for at least 5 weeks and when it will end is uncertain so now is the time to take a pause and rethink your public relations strategy.

Try not to be too gloom and doom about social distancing and see the opportunity it brings to do something out of the ordinary and to think outside of the box. For example, if your usual summer business events aren’t looking likely to happen, why not switch to a virtual event instead.

You may be concerned about the benefits of sending a press release during this time but don’t forget, journalists are in the same boat as us and they need the stories to keep coming in. Now, more than ever, they want the gaps to be filled with good news stories. Don’t get me wrong, the news will continue to be dominated by COVID-19 updates, and it’s the journalists duty to share this as its what’s driving the markets, business decisions, financial circumstances and everyday lives. However, it’s still important to share non COVID-19-related press releases – only today there was an article about proposals going in for the new Gateshead arena– it shows that business and life are still carrying on, albeit in a different way.

Focus your communications around the COVID-19 climate. For example, your tone is key – you can’t ignore the current climate but importantly, don’t try to cash in on it.

Promote your brand personality

If you’re finding that you have more gaps in your working schedule, take this time to refresh the content that you share. You’re an expert in your industry so consider sharing your insight and analysis on the COVID-19 situation with your audience – write a blog, an article for the news, or simply share your expert knowledge on social media. Show the personality of your brand.

Everyone is experiencing struggles within their business due to lockdown and other reasons, so if you are, be open and honest about it.  Your clients are important to your business so by telling them that you’re experiencing issues with your service will build their trust in you and brand loyalty too. However, keep in mind that these messages need to be constructed and delivered effectively.

Don’t forget, you will be remembered for how you acted, or perhaps, didn’t act, during this time.

Corporate Social Responsibility

COVID-19 has opened our eyes to how many vulnerable people there are in our communities who need care. Empathy is also essential during this time and we need to show our appreciation to the essential workers, especially those on the frontline.

One way for you to show your gratitude and support is through corporate social responsibility.

How is your business enhancing the local community, your own working environment, or helping essential workers? There is a perception amongst the public that they expect larger businesses to help, and will certainly notice if you do. Consequently, once the dust settles, those who didn’t offer any assistance will be remembered for not doing it and those who did will be favoured.

So, make sure you’re doing something, anything – try to tailor it towards something your business may ordinarily do – and the development of your brand reputation will continue to excel.

Build a strong employer brand

Finally, don’t forget about your employees – they need to remember that they’re valued. If you do this, once this is over, your business will benefit from being known as being a good employer.

Even if recruitment isn’t your top priority right now, it shouldn’t be forgotten about as once normality returns you want your employees to come back to you (if they had to leave) and you want to recruit the best ones to work for you.  

Don’t end up like Mike Ashley who came under fire for putting his staff at risk by wanting to keep his Sports Direct shops open, claiming it offered essential items. Or, Richard Branson who asked his staff to take eight weeks unpaid leave. Perceptions are hard to change so don’t damage them now by treating your staff badly.

It may even be a wise move to step away from promoting your products and services and focus on what you’re doing for your employees and clients during this time. For example, share innovative ways you’re keeping in touch with your employees and how you’re spreading positivity and keeping morale high.  Team meeting pictures via conference calls are the trend right now!

Importantly, take the time to keep your employees in the loop about everything your business decides to do. Everyone is reading the same news at the minute about coronavirus and how it is affecting the economy so your employees will be worrying about what this means for their continued employment. Your employees made your business what it is so don’t forget to keep up your communications with them.

To conclude….

We all hope this will be over soon but it’s anyone’s guess when normality will resume. With the right communications and brand strategy we will get through this!

Leadership is key and taking control as best you can in the current climate is important. Take New Zealand’s Prime minister, Jacinda Ardern as a prime example who has recently been hailed as a great leader because of they way she has dealt with the current climate.

Actions will not be forgotten so make sure they’re heard for the right reasons. Your reputation and brand loyalty can only be bettered if you take on the qualities of empathy, care and humility – these must be placed ahead of maximising profits right now and must underpin all of your communications.

Clothier Lacey can help you get this right with our expertise to keep your strategy in line with what is needed right now. Give us a call and we can discuss your options and how you can keep your brand reputation at its best.

Good communication and how you engage with the public could not be more important right now!