Even through adversity, one can learn some important lessons and stay positive. These are testing times for everyone. It is important for everyone to understand how the communications will evolve during and after the pandemic. School of Communications and Reputation (SCoRe) hosted a webinar on “Learning from Adversity” with leaders from six PR firms – Ameer Ismail, GolinOpinion, Madhu Chhibber, Madison PR, Minal D’Rozario, Ideosphere Consulting, Mukesh Kharbanda, Fuzion PR, Rekha Rao, Zeno Group, and Udit Pathak, Media Mantra which was moderated by Resham Chhabra, NestAway. The hour-long conversation surely left us with some insightful learnings on “What they have learnt from their clients during the lockdown?
Madhu Chhibber shared that brands are going to leave a lasting impression in terms of hygiene standards for example Domino’s and their Zero Contact Delivery. There are certain businesses in which consumers’ life is going to completely change. For example, if we look at travel and tourism, the consumers will have to undergo certain tests if they want to travel. The airline companies will have to leave certain seats empty which will probably result in more expensive air fares. She rightly pointed out that technology has been a great enabler for all of us. She also mentioned that it will be availability over choice. Adding to that, nobody knows when the normal will return but she believes that we will be able to reclaim some part of our lives.
Ameer Ismail said that it is essential to keep yourself going. During the pandemic, consumers are seeing a lot of useless and unimportant information. Brands should focus more on the authenticity of the content. Minal D’Rozario agreed and added to this point that brands should be more mindful of the kind of content they are creating and also what is backing up the authenticity, who is the expertise behind it? It will make a lot of difference. He also shared his viewpoints on innovations in marketing communication where he gave an example of one of his clients and how they are doing their messaging. So that when the normal comes back, people have the trust on the brand and know that this is safe to use.
Mukesh Kharbanda spoke about communication and how it has always been about what consumers are thinking and feeling. He said that we have to move away from rosy pictures to holding a mirror in our hands which means knowing what consumers are feeling and thinking. Putting ourselves in their shoes and communicating accordingly.
Sharing his viewpoints on what Madhu Chhibber mentioned that it will be availability over choice, he pointed that it will be only for a short period of time. Post lockdown, when everything starts to normalise, the choice will come back. People will buy their preferred brand only. He explained how some industries like education, healthcare will have a great opportunity post Covid-19 whereas some industries like entertainment, travel and tourism will take time to come back into play. He also mentioned that this scenario doesn’t only exist in India but globally.
He spoke about that now we have shifted from 3Ps Position, Power and Prosperity to 3Hs Hope, Health and Happiness.
Rekha Rao discussed some interesting insights from China as she deals with clients there and since it is starting to slowly open up their market, we can take some learnings from them. Consumer behavior there is not the same as we predicted. They are more conscious while buying. China office has been a go to learning office from them. She also shared like how there is 5 stages of grief, there is also 5 stages of reactions to Covid-19 which starts from:
- Denial & Defiance – Where people believed that they are stronger than the disease.
- Fear & Depression – Where people got to know that it was here and it was here to stay.
- Acceptance – In this stage, people finally start acting responsibly. They abide by the rule and do things differently.
- Compassion – Helping the one that are in need besides’ themselves
India is currently on the 2nd stage, moving toward stage 3. The millennials have realised that health and savings are important. There is a possibility of a shift in the mindset of people. The respect will grow for the things we have taken for granted.
Minal D’Rozario discussed that the lines have blurred when asked about the future of PR, is it going to be digital or traditional. She mentioned that her idea is that they are going to become the real consultants. And also going to merge the digital and traditional. She also believes that advertising is also going to merge with the PR. According to her tech integration is going to become important. She also mentioned that as a communication professional, how they are going to be depending on tools. The tools were there in the business for a long time but dependency was not there. So, progression will be seen there.
Udit Pathak talked about how it is possible for us to run a PR consultancy virtually. It is the time to actually listen to the clients because brands are in a bigger problem. Technology will play a very vital role in the coming years. This time one should behave as a consultant and not as a consultancy. Listening to the clients and providing them with the solution is the most important role that one has to play during the pandemic. He also spoke about the theft of data that comes with the technology. Brands should invest heavily on two things: technology and legal.
The panelist shared their common viewpoints on how much communication is too much where they said that communication varies from brands to brands and that there should be transparency in the communication. The brands should communicate when they have to and what they have to.
Adversity has brought everyone together. Employees in the firms are concerned about each other and communicating with each other. It has helped leaders connect with their teams from the business unit. There is a lot of internal communication going on during these times. And leaders are actually getting time to work together with their teams.
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