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Hira Ali

Published on

May 10, 2020


Communications, marketing, public relations

It is safe to say that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic was not something anyone was prepared for, and that it has quickly taken over the lives of almost everyone across the globe. While we adjust to this ‘new normal’ as we stay away from our friends, colleagues and regular routines – it is vital that we take a look at the brands we work with and readjust their strategies as well.

With Singapore’s recent announcement of the extension to its Circuit Breaker measures, we’re a little far from “business as usual”, but that doesn’t mean we cower away until this pandemic is a thing of the past. As marketers, we need to be there for our audience whilst being sensitive to the crisis we’re all facing.

The question is, how do we maintain communications with our audience in a time like this? Here are some points to consider as we navigate these unchartered waters.

1. Question everything

As PR professionals and marketers, our audience is front and centre in everything that we do. In these unprecedented times, consumers’ interests are no longer the same and with this in mind, we need to ask ourselves….

  • How have my consumers’ priorities changed?
  • Do my brand’s products make a difference to my audience in these uncertain days? If not, how can they make a difference?
  • How does COVID affect my product or service?
  • Can my brand be involved in helping my audience through this time?

A recent study shows that consumers expect brands to be helpful and present during this epidemic. Asking questions like these ensure your audience is at the top of your mind and this will help you navigate around your planned content and campaigns – to see which still apply and which need to be set aside for now.

2. Slow and steady doesn’t win the race

The same study also reveals that people would like to know how brands are responding to the situation, and how things have changed within their own organisations in this time. So how should this impact your brand’s decisions?

News and updates around the coronavirus situation come about daily, and a-close-to-instant response assures your consumers that you’re on top of the situation and develops their confidence in your brand. For example, when companies halted their operations and set up remote working for the safety of their employees, consumers see that as a company with social responsibility at utmost priority. Brands have issues press releases, created social campaigns, and even amplified their safety efforts across various channels to include their audiences in their processes – for assurance, and inclusivity.

In these times, ensuring that your brand is responding and reacting to new developments is a great way to show that you’re going through these changes with them. Not only does this increase the sense of community, but it also brings you ahead of your competitors.

So, don’t take too much time releasing new content on recent changes in policies, rules or safety measures – be part of the conversation, or even better, start it.

3. Do your thing

COVID should not be a driving force to altering your brand’s strategy or personality in anyway, so keep doing your thing – while making just a few tweaks. Audiences still need to hear from you, your followers on social media need to know you’re with them, just as journalists need stories that aren’t COVID-related to publish.

Stay relevant to your consumers, and don’t suspend your strategies completely. Sure, some exciting projects would have to be paused momentarily but think of it this way, here’s a chance to work on something spontaneous, engaging and very very historical.

4. Communicate with Empathy

As everyone stays in their own homes whilst practicing social distancing, web browsing and reliance on social media is at an all time high. Which means that your communications and messaging has more eyes on them than ever before.

We’ve seen brands promote their content with tact and care, with subtle product placements and a delicate tone of voice that gives consumers a sense of normalcy whilst staying sensitive to the situation. There’s a thin line between maintaining normalcy and appearing opportunistic – so how does a brand manoeuvre around this?

There is no one-size-fits-all in this situation, and it all depends on each brand. It is definitely not the time to be blasting random content on social media feeds but you don’t have to shy away from posting brand images that incorporate onward looking messaging, or show support to those adjusting to this new reality. Plenty of brands are working to find the right balance by sharing COVID specific tips to help their audience, whilst maintaining their regular content.

Ultimately, what’s important is that you engage your audience with empathy and authenticity. So, go forth with your social content and connect!

The point is, there are many ways to go about in this journey – but we’ve got to remember that COVID might be the top story, but it’s not the only one. Get creative with your brand and communicate with your audience in a way you’ve never done before. From live streams, Instagram challenges, to stay home content, now is the time to create content that you’ve been putting off. Sounds like it’s time to assemble the team on a Zoom call for a serious brainstorming to come up with some great out-of-the-box solutions!

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