By Nicole Moody
Very few of us could ever have imagined that 2020 would kick-off with a global pandemic.
The crisis has left us all navigating unchartered waters, as we come to terms with both the immediate and longer-term impacts of COVID-19.
Aspects of our lives we previously considered ‘normal’ or ‘everyday’ have been thrown into a tailspin.
In particular, it’s forced us to consider how to connect and communicate differently. Both as individuals and brands.
We have witnessed first-hand the immense impact of regular, transparent and relatable communication and how, when executed effectively, it can mobilise masses of people to take action.
Consider the way we’ve responded to calls for social distancing. Each of us has made a concerted effort to change our behaviours and align our actions with the messaging shared by our government and health professionals.
This high level of engagement coincides with The Australian Newspoll, that shows the Prime Minister is currently enjoying the best approval rating for a leader since the end of 2008.
Our WA Premier is also riding a wave of popularity, and according to the Newspoll received the highest support of all the State Premiers for his handling of COVID-19.
His regular and informative press conferences have kept us updated, and we feel he has our State’s best interests at heart. I’m sure his travel ‘eggs-semption’ for The Easter Bunny didn’t hurt his approval ratings either.
These approval figures are impressive, particularly when we consider how fast the narrative is changing and evolving on a daily basis.
A lot has already been said about how to communicate at this time and many of the fundamentals remain the same no matter where you are.
However, it is important to recognise that the position WA is in is different to the Eastern States, and even more so to overseas. We are fortunate to be seeing an ease of restrictions across our State as we continue to flatten the curve, and this in turn, impacts how we should be communicating.
At Hunter, we’ve spent a considerable proportion of the past few months advising clients on how to continue to remain connected to their stakeholders during this unprecedented time.
Here is a summary of Nicole's top five tips for communicating as we recover from COVID-19.
1. Don’t go dark
It is important to maintain your brand presence and continue to communicate carefully and considerately – just make sure it is using the appropriate tone.
We are all sick of hearing about businesses that are ‘pivoting’ or (insultingly) working harder than ever to serve their customers.
Instead, our focus needs to be staying accessible and engaged.
Communicate with your audiences in the way that you would like to be communicated with.
2. The ‘so what?’ test
Your communications need to be creative and cut through the clutter.
Is what you are saying relevant to your audience right now? Does it consider what they are worried about and caring about?
I like to consider this the ‘so what?’ test. Do the best you can to ensure that everything you share with your audience is of value to them.
Don’t focus on the problems. Instead, try to share positive messages and good news stories to show that you are solution orientated and not focussed on the overwhelming negative press.
3. Focus on return on investment
Everyone is seeking value for money. More so, now than ever before.
What can you value add for your clients and customers? Share your knowledge and insights – go that extra mile.
And make sure you do this authentically, without any form of hard sell.
How brands behave during this crisis will impact how they are perceived for years to come.
DDB Group’s recent report, Seven Lessons From Lockdown, shows that 66% of Australians still want to hear from brands. However, unsurprisingly, we place much greater value on communication from brands that can help today, and those that are demonstrating heart and empathy.
Coles’ community hour was named best brand initiative by consumers during COVID-19.
Qantas arranging for stood down baggage handlers to work as shelf packers at Woolworths, came a close second.
4. Get closer than ever to your clients and customers – both current and former.
Don’t be fair weather friends. Just because someone isn’t a paying client or customer now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on those relationships.
Show your genuine loyalty and care by continuing to support and communicate where you can.
My silver lining to COVID-19 is witnessing how we have all come together to support each other and slow the rate of the virus. The same should go for your brand. Continue to support your clients, both past and present, and show you genuinely care about their business.
By staying engaged you can maintain established relationships and place yourself top of mind when lock-down is lifted.
5. Be human when you communicate
The biggest lesson we can take from all the research around communication during this crisis, is to remain human when we communicate.
We can get so caught up in representing our brands and sharing our messaging, that we forget that we are communicating with people who share similar concerns, anxieties, hopes and dreams that we do.
Show you genuinely care about your clients and customers – not just their business.
Mark McGowan has done this well. He’s provided regular, transparent and relatable updates on extremely important issues while simultaneously connecting with us in a very human way. Laughing at the idea of a kebab pit-stop mid-exercising and sharing details of how his own family holiday plans are being impacted.
This gives the impression that we are all in this together.
Relatable and authentic communications that show your ‘human’ side will work better than cold, corporate key messages. Case in point.. Mark McGowan’s Easter Bunny eggsemption!