How Would You Rate Your Brand Comms During COVID-19?

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By Tokunboh George-Taylor

Most companies develop a robust crisis communications manual. However, a few would have anticipated a pandemic like COVID-19. In the past weeks, brands were not sure when, what and how to communicate. It has been proven that brands that act effectively during a crisis will always come out stronger. The COVID-19 pandemic is not a time for brands to withdraw, it’s the time to consider ways they can support their stakeholders. All over the world, we have seen businesses despite their size support the fight against COVID-19 through financial donations as well as free goods and services.

It is very important for brands to continually reassure their employees and their customers. Right now, with the lockdown, media consumption has sky-rocketed. It is essential to know the best medium to use to communicate. Interestingly, traditional media has become very important – TV, Radio, Newspapers, and Emails. However, it is still advisable to ensure you maximise your engagement on owned social media platforms.

So, what should your brand communicate?

Below are some examples of communication initiatives you can employ during this pandemic;

  1. Be proactive with employee communication
    • Regular communication with employees this period is very important, not only to support working from home but to keep a check on their mental health and well-being.
    • WPP in collaboration with Ogilvy’s Employee Experience team and H+K’s People & Purpose team have put together a best practice deck for Employee Experience for change management, see Employee Experience in COVID-19.
  2. Simplicity and clarity of message is crucial
    • Stick to your purpose as an organisation.
    • Flour Mills Nigeria PLC’s (FMN) purpose is to Feed the Nation Every day. To fulfil that purpose during the pandemic, FMN donated food trucks across 13 states to alleviate the challenges faced by Nigerians during the COVID-19 partial lockdown.
  3. Emphasis on product safety and customer experience
    • We have all heard that customer is king? So, we must communicate changes in customer experience promptly. Communicating with your customers will not only reassure them that you care but will build trust now and in the future.
    • Brands like Eat’N’Go, the franchisee for Domino’s Pizza, Pinkberry Gourmet Frozen Yoghurt, and Cold Stone Creamery championed takeout services amid the lockdown. Few days into the pandemic, they launched contactless delivery for Domino’s Pizza and partnered with Jumia for quick delivery of Cold Stone and Pinkberry to continuously provide a satisfactory customer experience.
  4. Partner with Government and Relief Agencies to assist with the pandemic
    • This initiative will reassure the general public that you care!
    • IHS Towers, the largest mobile telecommunications infrastructure provider in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East partnered with UNICEF to provide medical test kits and PPEs, donated four ambulances to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and donated N100 Million to the Coalition Against COVID-19.
    • Visa Foundation, Standard Chartered, P&G and, Eat’N’Go also donated US$210 Million, US$50 Million, N90 Million worth of humanitarian package, and food for essential workers across the nation respectively.
  5. Use your brand to educate
    • Be a reliable information source and keep all stakeholders informed about all aspects of the pandemic
    • Security online has had its challenges due to COVID-19. Visa, the world leader in digital payments rolled out a security campaign tagged Spot a Scam to educate consumers on how to stay secure online. Visa continues to offer reliable information about the virus and progress across the world.
  6. Focus on products or solutions that can help with the pandemic
    • This is not a new time to launch a new product, instead focus on products or services that can assist.
    • Nigerian Fashion Designer, Tiffany Amber, redirected production of fashion items to the production of face masks, hospital gowns, scrubs, medical garments to support the medical sector. The brand also accommodated and fed its production staff on site for safety reasons.

How well do you think your brand is doing? Are you implementing all the communications initiatives/strategies highlighted above?

This is the time to use your brand to connect people and stay close especially on social media.

Tokunboh George-Taylor is the Managing Director of Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

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