Dora Nikols (pictured below) is a PR and social purpose specialist who runs Social Mission and consults to agencies and corporate clients to create initiatives and communications that brings a companies social purpose to life. In this guest post, Nikols says rather than go into lockdown, now’s the time for brands to be yelling their messages loud and clear…
We are living through some challenging times as the coronavirus epidemic has grounded not only many companies but planet earth. Every one of us has had to stop and think, reflect and in many ways, develop. Health and safety have risen to the top of our priority list with a renewed focus on being more caring, compassionate and community-focused in a new world that dictates social distancing.
Our isolation has forced us to reflect on what is valuable in our lives and what our purpose is. This rediscovered sense of self and a newfound appreciation for the world around us means companies will also need to reconsider how they operate and communicate both during and after the coronavirus.
To try and understand and even attempt to navigate this new market terrain, many companies have scrambled to conduct market research. In the ‘Brand trust and the coronavirus pandemic’ report, Edelman found that 81% of people believe confidence in a brand to do what’s right is a deciding factor in their brand buying decision.
While the ‘Covid-19 Tracker Insights for a time of crisis’ report by Porter-Novelli found that 77% of people believe companies must make decisions that are in the interest of the broader community. In this moment of global need people are watching, and the companies that will thrive will be the ones that were of service to individuals, society and the environment during this epidemic.
The Porter-Novelli study went on to find 71% people feel better about companies that publicly announce what they are doing in response to the pandemic. While 75% say, they will remember which companies stepped up to provide coronavirus support when this is all over.
So now is the time to think about how you will support the health and wellbeing of employees? What products, services and resources can you deploy in service of the community? How can you contribute to society in a powerful and meaningful way? How can you be more conscious and purpose-driven in how you operate and communicate?
Right now, we need to navigate a new norm and acknowledge that we are all in this together. To do this, we need to be more conscious of how we communicate and act during the coronavirus crisis following these critical steps:-
- Create a coronavirus crisis team –
Swiftly establish a ‘coronavirus crisis team’ consisting of senior executives and department heads, including the CEO, human resources and public relations to monitor the crisis and develop communication protocols and messaging.
- CEO to be vocal and visual –
The CEO needs to show leadership and compassion to ensure staff are healthy, motivated and engaged. By using Zoom to share how the company is handling the virus and what extra steps they are taking to support staff. For example; Aldi in the UK is offering staff a 10 per cent bonus for working through the coronavirus outbreak. While corporate CEOs are taking voluntary pay cuts including Qantas CEO Alan Joyce
- Focus on your social purpose –
All PR, social media and marketing interactions should be meaningful by only focusing on the company’s social mission. Messages should only include their commitment to the community, employees, consumers and the environment. For example; Woolworths is using their marketing voice to announce an exclusive shopping hour for seniors and people with a disability.
- Support the community –
Companies should put their social purpose into action by making in-kind donations to support our healthcare workers and people affected by the coronavirus. For example; McDonald’s is giving healthcare workers free coffee, Johnson & Johnson is donating millions of masks while Crocs is giving healthcare workers free shoes.
- Be prepared for media Inquiries –
It is vital to prepare for media inquiries, which requires several critical steps, including anticipating difficult questions; developing factual messaging that conveys empathy, transparency, and concern; establishing and media training a company spokesperson; and monitoring social and other media commentary.
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