A stealthy virus originates in one part of the world and takes over the rest. It spreads like jungle fire, globally, causing an exponential rise in casualties across countries. Implementation of multiple nationwide lockdowns to curb the spread of the infection bringing economies to a screeching halt.
Consumer spending restricts itself to the bare necessities and essentials, significantly dipping for every other category layered with an anxious and uncertain economy boiling down to job insecurity.
Cut to the present, the virus attack withstanding, while we unlock and brave a gradual opening, consumers remain vary in their shell, understandably. Revenue is a distant reality and cash burn continues to haunt. Small businesses that can’t afford this drain are shutting down, while others live in constant unease. Organisations quite simply have two immediate addressable action agendas: business recovery and talent management – impacting their short & long term. The unanimous concern is ‘safety and well-being’, be it consumers or employees. An unprecedented time such as this, presents per force, even an opportunity for leaders to take a step back and re-evaluate their entire communications strategy, in line with their business continuity plan.
Targeted, empathetic, collaborative, transparent communication can cut through the clutter and deliver the messages generating the impact that’s required across internal and external stakeholders.
Be Proactive, responsible with the world around
The right communication has the potential to deeply influence how consumers perceive various organisations & brands, in-turn creating tangible business impact. According to estimates from a March 2020 survey of marketers conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, nearly a quarter of brands had gone dark, pausing their paid marketing communications for the first half of the year. On the contrary, according to a global Edelman research, customers want to hear from brands in times of crisis, but only if the communication is reassuring and provides specific targeted information. The apprehensive, uneasy, scared consumer of today use only brands they can trust – brands that are responsible and conscientious. With the onslaught of content & information, brands should focus on putting out communication that’s right, relevant and regular.
And, it’s quite tremendous to see how a substantial number of them are on the correct path as, 55 percent of the consumers according to a survey perceived brands to be responding meaningfully, quickly and effectively to the pandemic, than the government, demonstrating their faith in brands and the companies that stood behind them.
Be Consistent, transparent with the world inside
Talent is the nerve centre of any organisation and times such as these, underscores their role even more. Keeping them secure, confident, and motivated to innovate for business continuity is critical – and, in doing so, heartfelt leadership is pivotal. Right communication can not only help them cope in a crisis scenario, but also ensure cross-functional collaboration and maintain workplace productivity.
It is vital to keep internal stakeholders informed, updated – whether it’s on initiatives to ensure their health and safety, or on the business report card. The organisation needs to communicate the larger narrative and build cognisance on safety guidelines. This will also increase confidence and view the organisation as credible advisors and solution providers. It’s key to warrant transparent, clear and consistent engagement.
Technology: Key enabler for effective communication
Technology has been the backbone to our existence the last 6 months! It is oxygen to the new world order! This somewhat forced implosion has fast forwarded us to re-orient, operate differently, remotely, innovatively, productively and efficiently. Every transaction, every engagement is online today – technologies like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are propellers to growth and are paving the way – it is important to leverage each platform strategically to reach out, connect and deliver. Digitally transform, adapt or be ready to lose out.
Extraordinary times are case studies of what not to do, as much as what to! Gaps in communication and messaging prove terminal when we’re working against the tide. So, communicators need to buckle and step up and help humanise and personalise brands to their customers inside out and outside in. The right communication strategy can be the beacon – converting efforts into business results.
As Albert Einstein famously said, “In the middle of every difficulty, lies an opportunity”. So we power on and learn from everything this exceptional phase throws at us. If there’s lemons there will always be that ‘we got this’ lemonade!
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