COVID 19 Crisis: What is the right way for brands to communicate and drive out the situation?

Since the emergence of COVID-19 in China and the subsequent outbreak in the world, there have been thousands of conversations happening across the internet and social media about the virus. Most of these communications either created awareness, panic, or misinformation among most people. While the social media platform - Twitter remarked that they have seen COVID-19 related Tweet every 45 milliseconds. Now the hashtag #Coronavirus is the second most used hashtag of 2020.

While the situation gets worse, as brands, businesses and individuals, we are facing an unprecedented global effect which is open-ended. In times of crisis, people look to leaders and institutions for guidance, reassurance and information. Similarly, they'll also look to brands and businesses with whom they have been in touch for months or years.

However, you need to understand the current reality and, this is not a ‘marketing opportunity’ to capitalise on. From a business and brand perspective, think about what you can be doing and communicating in your country? Try to realise what’s appropriate for your brand right now? And, what's the right way for you as a brand to communicate and market during this period?

To help, we’ve put together a set of guidelines to handle the situation effectively. Of course, every business has its own strategy and it depends on the nature and model of your business. These guidelines will provide some basic principles as you take steps over the next few days or weeks.

1. Observe and Evaluate

Understanding the reality of the situation is vital in any crisis. You must monitor and evaluate the situation as it unfolds and be responsive. Being responsive may include:

Keeping Up-to-Date

Things keep changing fast, what might have felt like a good message yesterday might not be the right thing today. Keep a close eye on the news and conversations, and be sure to consider the context before replying or broadcasting. Sometimes, it’s better not to say anything.

Monitor Other Brands

See what other brands in your sector are doing. This does not mean that you should copy another, but determining what others are doing in terms of their communications. Observing their reactions to certain situations are a helpful way to be on the right path.

Know your Brand

It’s all about understanding the unique role your brand plays in people’s lives. Try to know if your brand’s importance has changed, and how your brand can help or be useful during COVID 19 crisis. At the same time, it’s also about looking for opportunities to lead by example and,  always remember to do the right thing, which makes sense for your business.

Be Open to Authoritative Guidelines

National, state or local level authorities are providing advice and direction on an almost daily basis. From official opening dates and when employees can work, how businesses should respond and act during a crisis to notice on hosting events, businesses must adhere to government policy.

2. Express your Concern to Customers

It is the right time for you to show that you care for your customers. Experts say that brands need to set up responsible voices. This can be done by being::

Supportive and Caring

As brands, you can show your support for your customers by donating or sending messages of care. But it’s important to do so with consideration, authenticity and thought for how to express this in the best way possible.

Sending Thoughtful E-mails

You can send caring emails to your customers with an emphasis on reminding them to stay connected during this period of isolation. Along with your brand's unique positioning, it's all about bringing people together and strengthening relationships.

Keeping them Updated

While the COVID 19 crisis continues to evolve, you (brands) can keep your customers informed about important updates. For example, the Companies in the travel and hospitality industry can update consumers about the status of flights and hotels. Retailers can inform the public that's no shortage of essential commodities and hence, no need to be panic. Likewise, companies that have sanitation and hygiene products should tell the public how to use them effectively.

Hence, the responsibility of all good brands would be to spread awareness about health and hygiene in whichever way you can in association with what product or service you offer. As a brand, you need to be more caring and should bear with time. You will attract more customers if you are more responsible.

3. How your brand should move forward?

Focus on Facts rather than Creativity

During this time of pandemic crisis, your brand can be used to run a series of awareness campaigns across digital platforms, social media and mainstream media to educate the public about how to keep them safe from the virus.

Organise Q & A Sessions

You can also organise Q&A sessions with prominent doctors or knowledgeable personalities on digital media platforms to address the customers queries regarding the virus and how to keep their families protected from it.

Pause Marketing Campaigns and Focus on Communications

The businesses across the globe are scrambling to handle the crisis emerging due to the spread of Novel Coronavirus. The global GDP is likely to take a beating because of the reduction in economic activity. As you struggle to minimise the impact on your sales, communication (both through advertising and press) has become even more imminent. Pause the marketing initiatives and ad spends. Figure out a way to engage with customers amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

Let's Prepare for the Recovery

The situation created by coronavirus is expected to improve and India (and all other countries) will absolutely bounce back to full strength. When it does, your business needs to be ready and be able to recover just as fast, with a plan of re-scheduled events, campaigns and communications, and the capability to recapture the previous momentum we all had.

Now is the time to show your brand’s genuine support for your country (India). Show that you are standing shoulder to shoulder with India (or your country) during this difficult time – a time when everyone is paying attention.

Noushad M K
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