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Businesses and the brands they own will need to put the pieces together after weeks of enforced inactivity. The ways to reach out to audiences are fairly straight-forward. Image Credit: iStock

For weeks now, we have been dealing with the coronavirus outbreak that has led to business disruption, the effects of which are showing up on companies and economies. In the midst of this crisis, companies are working on strategies how to overcome disruptions to operation and minimise the impact while reconnecting with their key audience.

Regardless of whether you are a multinational, a non-profit, educational institution or a start-up, communication to the relevant stakeholders should be proactive and on-point. Here are some fundamentals to guide businesses in communicating during this time of heightened concern:

Efficient use of email

During a crisis, email is the most powerful channel to stay connected with relevant stakeholders and keep them informed of the latest developments. With the power to make or break your business, email communication should be sent only if you have a legitimate business need to do so, and is purely intended to keep the audience abreast about what the company is doing to ensure safety for them, or to provide the best service and experience, comment on the impact of events, rather than focus on the distribution of marketing or call-to-action emails.

Businesses showcasing compassion and consideration with their customers are three times more likely to retain all clients and win their trust rather than go through a social media storm that can occur if a brand’s communication is not empathetic or aligned with customers’ values.

Leverage the content

According to SEO Tribunal, Google receives over 63,000 searches per second on any given day. In times of crisis, the research bar hikes even more. During the virus outbreak, it is now more crucial than ever for brands to keep an eye on updates related to the industry and support its customers and stakeholders with valuable, accurate and useful information.

Do know what your customers are struggling with, think of what value your company can provide as an organisation to help address your audience’s pain points and become a trusted voice and authority in your sector.

HubSpot’s “State of Inbound Marketing’s” report confirms that creating high-quality meaningful and engaging content not only helps businesses be discovered in Google, but also helps brands have greater customer connection. And 55 per cent of marketers commit blog content creation is their top marketing priority followed by video content, which is exponentially more effective communication channel when information is fluid, as it is 20 times more likely to be remembered.

Audio content now plays a central role in any forward-thinking marketing strategy as it offers a uniquely intimate atmosphere where people can connect with brands and receive useful information in a tailored way.

Armed with industry insights, a brand should focus on the development of a communication strategy that will define where, when and what message should be communicated to their key audience.

An indispensable source

With more than three billion people using social media every month, it’s no passing trend. Though it started out as a platform for individuals to share photos of friends and family, social media has evolved to become much more impactful, especially for businesses.

Consumers are increasingly more discerning about the brands they support on social media: 74 per cent of shoppers make buying decisions based on social media. The takeaway for brands is how to use this influence and leverage it for their own business.

We advise businesses to post content that their followers will find valuable, relevant and trustworthy. A consistent feed will help businesses stay close with their audience, especially during a period of crisis. Do remember, with the amount of fake news circulating on social media, businesses should engage their comms and legal departments to circulate only credible facts.

Community engagement

Lastly, when a disaster such as Covid-19 strikes, brands should step-up and listen to the affected communities and provide help wherever possible to help them rebuild.

For example, with the outbreak pushing companies and organisations to transition to remote work, Google and Microsoft stepped up to offer free access to their more robust teleconferencing and collaboration tools to help the business community and to make it easier for people to work from home. Similarly, ed-tech companies are providing free access to e-learning platforms to help educators reach students in virtual ways.

- Anastasiya Golovatenko is Account Director at Sherpa Communications.