AS COMMUNICATIONS professionals, we are used to being agile and preparing for and supporting clients through the unexpected, but never did we think a global pandemic would fit into planning considerations for 2020. With business closures, amendments to operations, staff furloughed or working from home, the resilience of businesses’ external and internal communications activity has been tested like never before.
Whilst brand visibility and demand for return on investment is nothing new, the pandemic has accelerated the need for companies to communicate more openly, effectively and creatively to make an impact. With a dominance on Covid-19 sweeping across the news agenda globally, any ‘alternative news’ has to have a real impact to be considered and with a sympathetic and authentic tone amidst a backdrop of global negativity and uncertainty.
This has led to businesses placing more emphasis on creating their own content and shifting how they deliver messaging to their audiences. PR agencies are now adopting and placing increased prominence on digital services, perhaps previously commonly associated with dedicated digital agencies (SEO, social, podcasts etc). That’s not surprising when you consider pre lockdown around 300 new podcasts were released a day – now it’s 3,000 and rising.
With ‘regular’ planning and activity currently limited, the spotlight is being shone on the people within organisations and the way in which they are being treated and made to feel during this time will ultimately define how businesses are perceivedin the future. Elevating employees as brand spokespeople and putting people at the centre of business strategy and ethos, coupled with a defined purpose and behaving in a sustainable way, is key to how businesses will position themselves out of the pandemic.
Despite businesses having to be more considered in their communications approach, history has shown that some of the most prominent brands have started and flourished during tough times, including Airbnb and Dropbox (we can surely now add Zoom to that list), so even though the changes to the business landscape have been unprecedented, businesses should not lie quiet or dormant. 2020 will leave a lasting legacy, but with the second wave upon us and talk of a third wave around March 2021, it is imperative that businesses look back on what the last eight months have taught us and be prepared for any eventuality. Now really is as good of a time as any to build and hone your brand’s story.