COVID-19 continues to evolve, besides causing a major threat to people’s life it is significantly affecting the business and economy. During this unprecedented situation, it is of utmost importance for businesses to keep the communication strategies intact for survival. In any scenario, communication plays a pivotal role in the effective distribution of information for every business. Else, it will become challenging for most businesses to keep their workforce, finance, and overall productivity under control. The communication strategy will be inevitable even when the pandemic effect settles down for every sector and industry.
The need for Communication Strategy
Globally we can see a lot of leaders primitively communicating about the situation. The key is to find an optimal balance between transparency in communication and avoid unnecessary information that might cause panic. Now more than ever, it is critical to establish mediums for two-way communication with all stakeholders. During the time of crisis, they will rely on the organization’s leadership to provide answers, solutions, and guidelines to follow and thus it is vital to maintain open, transparent communication with the community. People panic when they feel a lack of control, and if firms are consistent, calming, and communicative, they will be supporting those who matter most and protecting the organization’s best interests.
We are all in this together, so the ideal way is to stay transparent with the consumers about what the business is going through. Customers empathize with companies that are facing a crisis, as long as the communication is transparent. It is necessary to communicate with customers to understand their perception of the product/s offered by you. For large companies considering layoffs, the primary option should be to cut the salaries of the higher paid employees to try to retain the people who least can afford to lose their jobs employed. However, when the time comes to make the tough calls do it with compassion and look out for government directives, and offer extra compensation as and when required. Such implementation should be carried out only once and not in stages, so that, it does not affect employee morale.
Increase in virtual communication
communication has been introduced long back, but it is now the organizations are leveraging the same for the day-to-day work. Technology has paved a wide range of options for organizations with virtual communication to undertake the biggest of projects. The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced organizations to adapt to virtual communication, and the skills have become increasingly implemented during the lockdown. Innovative smartphone applications, efficient software, and a variety of direct messaging options have made it is possible to communicate and employees around the world, despite the geographic location. The benefits of virtual communication broaden the transformative nature of the medium, creating altogether a different environment during this lockdown. Managing virtual teams is fundamentally different from the traditional followed. This requires proper preparation, management, and calculated agenda and execution. Currently, organizations are hugely relied on virtual communication to navigate the work shift from office to home whilst maintaining efficiency and trust among the team and team leaders.
Leveraging Social Media for Communication
During this period, social media is one channel of communication that probably can reach a larger audience. In fact, with most of the public now at home practicing social distancing, their activity online will be increased, as social media will eventually become the primary and a powerful tool of communication. With easy internet access, a number of different social media platforms, and millions of social media users in India, organizations are leveraging the platform to gain more traction with various activities undertaken by the organization. With each social media platform having a different style of content and caters to different types of consumers, it demands a different level of creativity to create content with regard to the target audience. Instead, businesses can use these times to create awareness about preventive measures. By educating the public, organizations can build and retain trust with their audience. While most brands may not have huge resources, they could all help spread awareness. Simple and informative pieces of the content will be appreciated by the audience.
Communication: Brands & Consumers
The one thing brands and leaders do need to keep in mind is there is no substitute for authenticity. Honest and purpose-driven decisions will reap lasting goodwill of the brand among the consumers. The core expectation that consumers have of brands in any situation is that brands will do what is right for their target audience and society at large. The brand does take part in a noteworthy role in determining the choices people make. Considering the need of the hour brands in collaboration with media, marketing, advertising, and PR are reviving the communication to drive appropriate action. For example, offering free or lower-priced products, essential goods to help people meet their needs amidst the crisis, particularly those in utmost need, such as healthcare workers, e-commerce players delivering essential goods for those in remote needs or being a helping hand to those forced into unemployment due to the changing economic environment is an example of what will generate goodwill.
Learning from the crisis would go a long way for organizations, as to how businesses and brands have transformed themselves, prioritized and found new and effective ways to communicate with their employees and clients all the while bracing for the economic impact it may have on all of us. At this time, while people are uncertain about what is happening, and what to expect, being empathetic to their needs and fears will let them be more understanding as to what type of messages will be appreciated. If there is an act of kindness that they could do during this period, don’t hesitate. It can help to build trust and goodwill with the public and show that firms care for them.
During times like these every action one takes could be good or detrimental to the brand. However, by using empathy to craft an informative social media campaign, one could reach their audience organically. Organizations should focus right now on sharing factual information and educating their audience. This is an opportunity for brands to show that it genuinely cares about their customers. It is important to stand united and help each other in whatever way we can. Stay safe and stay healthy and remember that some of the best initiatives are built-in trying times. Like all difficult situations, this too shall pass!
Authored by: Pankaj Rai Chaudhary, Public Relations Professional, Grey Cell Public Relations