Unlocking the ‘new normal’ in Communications

The world second most populous country slowly started its first phase of ‘unlock’ effective June 2020. The move aimed at reviving the stagnant economy has created mixed results as while people with hope and enthusiasm started taking baby steps towards the normalcy, the health results have been just the opposite. There is much confusion as to how to communicate with your consumers. The months ahead are penny pinching and with limited funds in circulation, the consumer rethink every rupee he/she spends.

Gloating on social media over expensive purchases are gone. Today, it is survival of the simplest, the sturdiest and the most sensible one. When the underlying feelings of scarcity and scare prevail, how will communications look in the months ahead?

My thoughts, food for your thought.

  1. Communications calendar: In the age of instant gratification, lighting speed texts and live streaming, the dear old communications calendar was relegated to the back burner. Seriously, because how could you keep a communications calendar static when comparisons, competition and content kept changing in minutes? As the world moves towards slow living, can we bring back this sturdy communications tool back in business? No comparisons. Simply, what you can do and what you’d like the consumer to know about you, without going overboard on the value-adds or promising the moon.
  2. Perfecting the story pitch: PR veterans will vouch for this. The art of sharing a story pitch to the media is a dying art, practiced by a few and unknown to most. The practice of a few lines, killer headline and story depth pitched to interested media is now going to make its comeback, in style.
  3. Planning ahead: With movement being restricted and travel being done under the mask of health and safety, communications will no longer be impromptu. Unless it is a crisis or an emergency. In such a scenario, the ‘new normal’ for communications will be pre-planned and prioritised. No last minute invites, no impromptu stories, no overnight media bashes!
  4. Views and News: The perfect time to pitch for one-on-one interviews is now. With social distancing, lesser travels and health protocols in place, online interviews are best done one-on-one. Can we pitch for some interesting news and views coming up? With the media news going ahead largely to be focused on health, hygiene, safety and economy; strategic interviews of key spokespersons has a greater chance of becoming a feature.
  5. Contactless yet compelling: Communication will be less tactile, so engage all other senses. Printed collaterals will be non-existent for the next few months, so how do we connect with customers? Audio story-telling, smell, sight, sounds can be combined innovatively to keep the brand messaging going strong and effective. A key factor is authenticity. Sell what you promise. People when they come out will come out with a lot of faith, so if there is a slight trust deficit in their product feel, usage or delivery; this will be a customer lost forever.
  6. Virtual story-telling: Since we are connected online, as the safest way to communicate, virtual story telling can be harnessed in a classy way. Product launches, press interactions, product unveiling all will be virtual. So the key is, how different can you be virtually?
  7. Clean and crisp content: The time spent online is huge today and will be so for months to come. Clean, crisp content will get you the right eyeballs and the right wallets. With so much of messaging going on, low spending power and basic life obligations happening every day; the tease and shock effect will not work. Keep the message clean and as direct as you can. No one is in the mood for over-the-top campaigns when we are struggling with the basics.
  8. Communications ROI: This can be a fruitful time to keep a tab on your communications return on investment. With marketing spends literally going zero, and every option being evaluated critically, this can be the time to truly evaluate and accept which media channel works for your brand. A few months ago, competition and comparison rules the roost. Right now, clarity and consistency will be the one to survive the long run.
  9. No WOW. Only HOW: A key lesson taught in every management book is to ‘WOW’ the customer. With the current trust deficit, health scare and low economic spending power in for a few more months, honestly – instead of adding any superfluous WOW factor, a simple, direct HOW message will work better. Customers are looking at health and hygiene foremost. That doesn’t mean dry, monotonous communication. Instead understand that these two will be the focus for the consumer first. We can look at WOW factors when we promise and deliver the basics right.
  10. Communicate Value: The best stories are the one that tell the simplest of messages in the simplest way possible. 2020 has stripped us of our excess. Same goes for communications too.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Matuli Madhusmita Swain
Matuli Madhusmita Swain is a seasoned marketing and communications expert with over 10 years of experience in hospitality, social development and advertising with brands like The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, Hyatt, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts, IHG, Grey Group and Dr. Reddy’s Foundation.
A writer, speaker, artist and WICA (Women in Corporate Awards) Nominee 2019; her communications expertise is honed working on stellar marketing campaigns and creating compelling PR pitches.
She loves good content, digital storytelling and champions conversations on marketing, women leadership, new age work place practices, economics, entrepreneurship, sustainable travel and tourism.

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