By Euan Edworthy, chairman, Best Communications
We can be sure that the ‘new normal’ post-COVID-19 won’t be much like the ‘old normal’. We can already predict that there will be fewer brands, fewer services companies and less employment as CFOs struggle to make sense of the P&L. There will be casualties and there will be survivors.
I work in public relations, so naturally I see the world through a marketing communications lens. PR isn’t the whole story, of course, or anything like it. However… I suspect that a really strong public profile will be one of the main differentiators between companies with a future and those with none as we emerge from lockdown into competition unlike anything we have ever known.
Here are seven recommendations for hitting the ‘new normal’ with a bang.
Start now. Most companies, for obvious reasons, are focussed on day-to-day concerns: reacting to changing government regulations, grappling with furlough and remote working, trying as best they can to keep supply chains operating and customers content. Set aside time to think about business challenges in the autumn: who will our consumers be? The same? Probably not.
Be bold. By hook or by crook, get the money to make a big, positive statement to customers, consumers and business partners. They will be expecting frailty. Disappoint them. Instead, reassure them with twice the level of outreach and engagement that they were used to before COVID-19.
Re-think. Your USPs, mission statements, core values and key messages may still resonate in a post-COVID world. But they may not. People’s ideas have changed. Their circumstances certainly have, and the old attitudes that you knew so well may have altered out of all recognition. Find out. Do some research. Then review your messaging accordingly.
Interact. We were told by The Cluetrain Manifesto in 1999 that a web-based market meant we’d need to converse with consumers rather than broadcasting at them. But there are still companies and brands who have yet to ‘smell the coffee’. Interaction is granular and time-consuming, yet studies show that engagement is actually less expensive than shouting. A PR Euro delivers more than ten times the ROI of an advertising Euro.
Get online. Maybe you already are. But are you? How many of the available online/digital channels are you actually using to communicate with your stakeholders? Do you know which ones work and which are just electronic confetti? COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of online channels for obvious reasons. Are you exploiting the reach and impact of the various platforms to the maximum? If not, your competitors probably are. Do you monitor what they are saying and doing online?
Less is more. We each receive over 4,000 commercial messages every day. We blot most of them out. What will make your messages cut through this noise and stick in consumers’ memories? The answer is creativity: messages that surprise, please and satisfy a need. Coming up with ideas, words and images which achieve this objective is very hard. In a post-COVID marketplace creative talent will be at an all-time premium.
Go Hollywood. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Today’s short attention-spans mean that moving images are worth a thousand pictures. Today’s media and the consumers they serve are footage first, images second and text last. Have you adapted to this ‘new normal’? How much of your marketing communication is footage, clips and gifs? Movies offer a quick way to capture dominant market-share in a post-COVID environment.
I hope one or two of these ideas will provoke thought. The gloves are coming off, and if you enjoy market combat as much as I do we can look forward to a lot of fun in the months ahead.
Euan Edworthy set up Best Communications 25 years ago to bring US and UK marketing communications techniques to the Czech and Slovak Republics. Today the firm employs 26 people and lists Unilever, Emirates, PUMA, Bell, Prologis, Kiwi.com, Rheinmetall, CN Cartoon Network, Four Seasons Hotel, Avestus, Arcona Capital, Marriott…….. among its long-term clients.