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Senior PR Account Executive Jemima Molyneux discusses methods to help businesses weather the storm

The rapid spread of coronavirus has brought unprecedented uncertainty into our lives and its effects on the economy are already being felt. Amid this crisis, PR and communications specialists need to take stock and focus on planning and strategy, keeping a clear and calm head.

Embracing digital potential

The pandemic has already caused widespread changes in consumers’ behaviours, with most working from home and having more time to devote to a broad range of media than ever before. A recent webinar by data insight specialist KANTAR gave interesting advice about how UK brands can survive the COVID-19 crisis. It suggested they must be highly adaptable to their consumers’ needs and embrace e-commerce wherever possible.

For many, direct e-commerce is not always possible, but translating a physical experience into a digital one is key. For example, through online education courses or by providing unique industry knowledge. Consider what your business brings to the online market and whether this can be used to educate and inform.

All forms of media consumption have increased over the last month, apart from the obvious – cinema. This includes greater readership of magazines, newspapers, online publications and podcasts. So it’s a great time to think about how to utilise this growth in order to be heard.

Nevertheless, as increased media uptake can create a sense of clutter, it’s imperative the communication we put out delivers the correct message and drives a compelling action.

Hibernation doesn’t last forever

Looking at this situation positively, and seeing the opportunity to increase brand equity, is the best headset to be in right now. KANTAR’s research into current online conversations showed people are beginning to plan for the future and think about what they can do once the pandemic is over. This means, once all this is over, customers are going to be catching up on everything they weren’t able to do, and your brand needs to be the first thing they think about.

Listen to your audience

Research into what customers expect from brands at this time showed a large percentage was most concerned about businesses’ responsibilities to their employees and what is being done for the wider community. Those concerned about what brands were doing in direct relation to their customers were more worried about issues such as protecting the supply chain, rather than whether advertising should cease.

Increasing brand equity

Now is a good time to build brand equity. Those that do so will be in the best place to grow their value and recover more quickly once these difficult times have passed. Listen closely to target audiences through the conversations taking place online. Then, consider your brand’s current position and the key associations to target.

Pushing sales is likely to backfire. Instead, use your industry knowledge to explain, inform and offer something substantial like online tuition or community support.

 

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