With numerous local lockdowns and the UK government enforcing a six-person maximum rule for social gatherings, it’s clear that COVID-19 restrictions are tightening once again and businesses are bracing for what’s to come.
We’re all sick of hearing ‘new normal’ and ‘in these uncertain times’, so whilst including ‘COVID-19-esque’ content in a communications strategy is both timely and relevant at present (this blog included), it’s nice to be reminded of life pre-COVID, so we should ensure that comms don’t solely focus on this.
Whilst many business owners may feel cutting communications is one way in an unpredictable climate to bring down costs in the short-term – having a presence on social media and in the press, and ensuring company news, services, team culture, ethos and brand values are still communicated, will keep consumers informed and instil confidence that a brand is still active and healthy, otherwise you run the risk that both existing and potential customers will think your brand is suffering or worse, no longer in business.
As PR professionals, we have worked with clients across a variety of sectors to refocus communications during the pandemic, ensuring brands are as strong as possible when tackling the many issues that came with an economic crisis. Reflecting on the last year since March and looking to the future, we have compiled four ways to keep communication strong at this time.
Four ways to keep communication strong during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Take media opportunities as they come
As well as proactive media relations that will increase the online visibility of your brand – an invaluable part of public relations in this increasingly digital world, it’s important to jump on and take advantage of ad-hoc opportunities as they arise. Whether a journo request is looking to speak to industry experts or a particularly relevant news story has landed in the press and a proactive comment can be drafted and issued to key media – journalists will often put feelers out there on social channels, looking for comment and insight into particular issues (both COVID and non-COVID), so if a topic is relevant to your brand, then it’s beneficial to capitalise on these opportunities, at a time when communication is so important to maintain and strengthen the reputation of your firm.
Keep social active and engaging
Social channels are essential for marketing your business, and keeping channels populated helps to demonstrate what you do to wide audiences, bolstering overall brand awareness, shaping tone of voice, connecting with existing and potential customers and ultimately driving leads and sales. Social platforms often have regular business-friendly updates, a recent one being Instagram’s shop tab, currently in its testing phase, which will allow platform users the option to browse and buy from top brands and creators without leaving the app. A good PR will always keep abreast of social updates that can be beneficial for clients, and will advise on how to utilise functions wherever possible.
Be proactive with contact
Being open with communication is so important when it comes to keeping existing clients reassured, and of course contacting potential new clients. Updating social channels, websites, sending emails and picking up the phone for a few minutes is incredibly valuable and shows an element of care. Personal contact is not to be underestimated, especially at a time when everyone is monitoring an economic crisis in which many well known businesses are suffering – customers deserve to know what’s going on and it’s important to let them know.
Go above and beyond
Buying attitudes are changing constantly and now more than ever consumers are looking for more than just single products and services. They want to trust what you are offering as a company is both high value and quality, so demonstrating authenticity, provenance and corporate social responsibility in terms of charitable and environmental efforts adds credibility to brands and will do wonders for reputation and consumer interest.