Communicating in a global crisis

Communicating in a global crisis

Angel Pearce

Angel Pearce

I was scrolling through social media over the weekend, looking at all the wonderful banana breads and creative projects people have taken on during lockdown. Then, I received a push notification from an airline company offering me a discount on baggage for my next flight if I book by the end of the week. Naturally, this slightly unsettled me. I began to wonder: are people actually booking holidays during a global pandemic? Would a discount on baggage really sway consumers to make that purchase in such an uncertain time?

The ways in which we communicate during these troubling times will be remembered. For some, being remembered for the positive communication will be nothing but positively impactful, but for those missing the mark with untimely or inappropriate messaging, this could have a lasting impact. But how do we effectively communicate and why is it so important?

Meaningful messaging  

During this time, the way we communicate and what we say can be helpful, even if it is not directly relevant to the situation at hand. Our word choices are equally as important as the message we are trying to convey – they can offer a diversion; they can offer a sense of normality and can even support those who may be struggling.  But timing is just as important as the choice of words. Remember to check for any campaign content you may have lined up from before the pandemic and perhaps consider when would be the best time to share this content, if it is still appropriate. Much like the message I received from the airline company about baggage deals, mistimed communication can be the source of frustration if not carefully considered.

In fact, new research from Epsilon-Conversant and CJ Affiliate shows that almost half of all consumers have received poorly-timed or inappropriate marketing messages over the first two weeks of lockdown. Many of us have noticed an influx of marketing emails and social media adverts, but the research revealed that the majority of consumers (62%) actually don’t want brands to stop advertising.

For a lot of us, this means we not only need to adapt the ways we are sharing our messages, but in some cases, adapting to fit the times. All communication, right now more than ever, must carry purpose.

Continue communications

If you cannot offer something that’s relevant or appropriate, perhaps it could be worth focusing efforts elsewhere. Maybe you could offer working from home support relevant to your brand, advice from your senior leadership team, or even just positive messaging to your current customers and employees to help keep up morale. The world may feel like it’s come to a halt, but this will not continue forever and the worst thing you can do is decide to go dark.

Going dark can risk your overall share of voice and if your competitors are continuing communications, this can leave you in a potentially detrimental position. While you may not be able to operate in quite the same way, you can adapt to the current situation as well as continuing to look ahead to recovery. With recovery on the horizon, if you decide to go dark, it will become much harder to scale up when working from nothing.

According to research from Kantar, under lockdown, web browsing has grown 70% while social media has grown over 60%, so now could be a great time to transfer messaging over to your social or web teams if your usual mediums have been affected by the crisis. Ultimately, continuing to communicate is key but it just may need to be tweaked slightly!

Top tips to tackling these troubling times

Generally, it seems that any messaging that shows care and compassion for the situation seems to be doing well. If you’re still stuck or questioning yourself about if your messaging is appropriate, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this message informative?
  • Is this message entertaining?
  • Is this message demonstrating care?

A perfect example of this is recent news from PlayStation. Sony recently released two free games to their members this month to encourage people to stay at home, this was received only positively. The research from Epsilon-Conversant and CJ Affiliate showed that many consumers would prefer to receive messages of wellbeing and positivity from brands, but ultimately, they were mainly still looking for discounts and offers. This example hits both needs while also addressing the situation head-on.

Despite the physical space put between us, we should be working even harder to ensure we are communicating more but we must make sure that our communication is tailored, relevant and appropriate. But we shouldn’t be turned away from communicating at all, we will just need to adapt!



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