How brands can leverage unique communication tools during the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world and the global economy to a massive slow down. With over 12,000 confirmed cases and counting, India is already bracing up for an unprecedented health and economic crisis.
Following the lockdown, the busiest metropolises of the country have been wearing a deserted look, with empty offices, empty roads, and locked schools. With just the essential services, including food and dairy, healthcare, civil administration, banking, and media functioning, the extent of the pandemic can be felt loud and clear.
However, in this time of the pandemic, communication agencies, including marketing, advertising, and PR, are re-defining the media landscape by partnering with brands to generate relevant, original, and responsible content that drives appropriate action.
While the media and communication sector is battling its own woes, with cancelled events, campaigns put on hold, and slower pace of work due to work from home directives, there are unique brand partnerships and messaging that is emerging out of these tough times, and keeping the sector enthusiastic and hopeful with a sense of purpose.
Anindita Gupta, Co-founder of Scenic Communications, highlights four ways how brands are transforming to ensure there is a seamless and relevant flow of communication and engagement in times of the COVID-19 crisis.
With the advent of new age media, the digital platforms for communicating were always very helpful in situations like this. From e-newspaper editions and move to complete digital and social media advertising, the brand communication world has now moved to the world-wide-web. All brands have started leveraging the digital platforms to engage with their various stakeholders through webinars and video calls.
But it is not only restricted to video calls and team meetings, given the reach technology provides, brands have also shifted their events online, where there are a lot of panel discussions happening, and most brands are partnering with communication agencies to create digital exclusive content.
With television shoots also being stopped, the digital medium is the only platform for brands to stay connected with their audience. In these few weeks, brands have drastically cut down on their OOH and BTL spends, and are focussing more on television and digital.
Keeping it relevant
Due to the pandemic, all campaigns have been put on hold, and brands are now reaching out with more engaging and responsible outreach ideas where necessary. It is also important to note that while the markets and the global economy are facing an impending recession, marketing budgets and communication spends have also been re-evaluated, and overnight, all branding is being moved to focus on the massive health crisis.
The messaging also talks about the impact or damage which has been caused by the pandemic, spreading social awareness, and assuring people in these tough times. Even as governments across the globe are trying to control the pandemic, brands and industry spokespeople are coming together on media platform to talk about their fears and share their views about a possible solution.
Creating relevant content
Keeping in mind the present scenario, content driven communication has become vital. From thought leadership, opinion pieces, and industry stories, to quotes, expectations, and participation across discussion, the brands, marketing companies, and media houses are working together to create content that is impactful and can drive positive action against the crisis.
The focus of the content is no longer in driving the sales of a product or a service but more about creating a brand recall in the minds of the customer, so that when things are back to normal, people will remember the brand was active, and they were driving the right message, which will in turn drive more sales after the turmoil subsidies.
As communication consultants to brands and being a responsible part of the media industry, PR has been driving brand engagement through relevant social responsibility content by informing, educating, and driving action among masses.
Brands, irrespective of their personal gains, are stepping up in the time of the crisis to do their bit for the society and for the community. This includes various initiatives like donating to the PM and CM funds, sponsoring meals for daily wage workers, and helping the front-line workers who are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the time when brands need to be seen as socially, morally, and ethically responsible, and this is when media and communication agencies are willing to help them create that kind of narrative.
While several industry leaders and media houses are doing their bit to contribute, PR agencies are teaming up with the media industry to create an integrated information approach to fight these crises.
From free access to e-edition of newspapers and magazines, valuable thought leadership and digital panel discussions to audio interviews and industry trend stories, media houses, brands, government, PR, and marketing agencies are coming together to fight against fake news, spread social awareness, and donate.
The pandemic has caused huge losses for everyone, but we must all stand strong and fight this. And of course, each one of us should take back some learning from this global turmoil. For most brands, this crisis can be a lesson on how to effectively leverage communication channels to maintain a brand recall when there is next to none physical presence.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)