When the Indian Government introduced full-scale lockdown measures on the 21st of March. All businesses were left scrambling for survival. The lockdown had a devastating impact on all sectors. Businesses were at risk of closing down and millions of jobs were at stake. Particularly with the ongoing social distancing restrictions, meant that businesses were unlikely to return to normal any time soon. However, now with most businesses having accepted the reality of the situation, brands need to adapt and find innovative ways to serve their customers.
Hence, it is important to develop a communications strategy that assumes that the virus is here to stay until at least the first half of 2021. Keeping this in mind, business owners need to first understand that PR and social media will play a pivotal role in a crisis of this magnitude. They will keep the communications of their business-focused, timely, and trustworthy.
Firstly, social media and PR for all businesses must stop all communications such as brand pitches and brand building. They should focus on COVID-19 related communications. Speaking about employee well-being, customers, partners, and public safety. The underlying message should be to avoid profiting from the pandemic and more about showing the humane side of your brand. This kind of communication can be created in a number of ways. By providing your customer with factual and trustworthy information. By Communicating with transparency, maintaining empathy and clarity, and keeping employees and customers inspired.
Most brands have always been about ‘customer first’. Your customers will always remember how you treated them when times were tough. Hence it is important, now more than ever, to inform them about what safety measures you are taking as a business. This information can be passed onto them effectively through your business social media page, your personal social media page, and through appearing in major publications that are speaking about health and safety measures you are taking as a brand in your sector.
This also means the brands need to ensure that their staff from the ground up has the most up to date information regarding customer interaction guidelines, campaigns, and current offers. So, when a customer does call to order and have queries about hygiene, health, and safety your staff is competent enough. They should be able to effectively communicate about all the safety measures implemented by your brand.
Secondly, if your marketing budgets very largely spent on on-ground communications. It is now time to invest that money in digital. Now more than ever people are spending more time on their devices and are more connected through digital media. Create digital campaigns that demonstrate your ability to serve customers during this time and provide an incentive to drive action. Paid promotions on social media will go a long way when reaching your customers in this uncertain time. Being active in the public eyes through thought leadership articles will also give you more credibility and create trust with your customer when ordering from your brand.
Thirdly, if your brand has not been in operations for the last three months and you are in the process of opening, reach into your customer database, and communicate with them. Gather and measure customer feedback to keep a pulse of sentiment and expectations that your customers have from you. This can be done through, not just social media channels. But also by crafting a very transparent and clear message that goes out to your customer database through email, text, and push notifications.
Lastly, if your brand is currently not serving the public in any way or form. It is still important for you to engage with your customer. This can be done by being active on social media. Assure them that once you have safety measures in place for your brand, your brand will be up and running. If not, you can still keep your social media active, by providing your customers with information on things that are relevant to your sector.
During this time of uncertainty, it is important to adapt your communications and marketing strategy to the best of your ability in order to retain your customers’ interest and hold a strong brand voice. And, the most effective way to do this during this time is by leveraging your social media and all available digital channels. Whilst also communicating effectively and appropriately through all internal and external mediums available to your business.