Fri, 22 May 2020 14:09:55 GMT
We are all aware by now that the global crisis we’re collectively facing is unprecedented. Modelling our communications responses, therefore, on the playbook of past recessions is, at best, shrewd guesswork. During a pandemic, when self-serving world leaders fail to follow the science in favour of political gain, we – brands, businesses and individuals alike - find ourselves standing on quicksand. We are at risk of being thrown dangerously off-kilter on a weekly, let alone quarterly, basis. The challenge is how to successfully navigate this disruption into a sustained future-fit leadership position - with integrity intact.
Don't Go Dark, go Deeper
Our communications company futurefactor was borne out of the recession of 2008/9, when creative businesses and ambitious brands were taking one of two routes through a crisis: pull back on PR teams, cut ad spend, go dark and wait it out; or go deeper. We built our business on helping brands dive into the who-what-why of their core value, clarifying their voice to cut through the chatter with a crystal-clear point of view. Why? To re-establish firm foundations, have something to say, and say it – clearly, consistently, and with conviction.
Right now is the best of times to re-evaluate not how to connect with your audience but how and why any audience wants to be connected with. Because chances are that your June 2020 audience thinks, feels and wants distinctly differently from that of December 2019. Take the time to (re)frame your brand equity for the longer-term.
Embrace the Earned Era
I believe in the power of earned media to establish trust between brands and the communities they are seeking to influence. Spending our days isolated as we do right now, communicating from a rectangle on a screen during a virtual office happy hour makes many of us yearn for a reality check.
Brands can build on this. The un-wrapped selves we’ve been displaying – through the bad hair days, attention-seeking cat assess, and next-room childcare challenges – makes for a snapshot of vulnerability. Brands can grab this as an opportunity to unpeel more corporate layers and connect (especially through social), sleeves rolled up, using quick-and-dirty production values that are more cost efficient.
Pivot with Purpose
We have all been somewhat forced into a period of reflection - about the environment, pollution, health and wellness, and what a border represents. We are also re-thinking what community means – how to play a relevant role. How to give and take.
Our habits and social patterns are being broken worldwide, which makes room for new consumer behaviours. The agile thinker-maker-doer will be grabbing this opportunity to pivot with purpose, by looking for new ways to serve clients, stakeholders and communities. Crisis is a period for advancement, after all, from tech and pharma to healthcare and environmental solutions. The best we can do as a brand or a business is stay alert, be ready and act nimble. Leaning into the skid can keep us on an icy road, wheels pointed in the right direction.
A pandemic is not the time for brands to tell us how awesome they are by attempting to press-release themselves out of a crisis. The winners are showing us with action. LVMH swapped perfume for hand sanitiser production; Mattel shifted into making essential medical supplies and created its online Playroom resource of free activities for home-schooling parents; even Pornhub lent a hand by both donating masks and offering free premium subscriptions.
During this period of distancing and video conferencing in place of human and humane interaction, more than ever we’re looking for integrity, connection, creative solutions. Brands have been talking about developing more meaningful relationships with people for decades. Delivering on that promise could be the difference between surviving or thriving.