In times of crisis, communication is not an option. One cannot put a pause and stop communicating, waiting for the “back to normal” condition.
Τhe coronavirus pandemic has imposed an acute restructuring of the communication environment, deeming companies and brands to adjust and voice their stand.
Amid this turmoil that has put the total of the economy in halt, and the individuals in awe, the need for brands and companies to adapt and react is a one-way road. Those who decide to communicate their “silence” will lose ground, face, and later on money, once they try to regain their public stance.
The global economy might have come to a standstill, but this does not apply to communication. We in Recipe put together a study on how Covid-19 shapes companies’ and brands’ public discourse, looking at ways that their voice could bear gravity in times of havoc.
Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs Pyramid and drawing on data from the Edelman Trust Barometer for Covid-19 based on 10,000 interviews, the study reaches some first conclusions. In this new communication reality that requires adjustment and action, it is first foremost necessary to understand that we are confronted with the basic Maslow needs, namely Survival, Security, and Belonging.
The way each company responds to meet these needs redefines its image. Day after day, we see the list of the brands stepping in and undertaking initiatives or delivering contributions towards the “survival” and “security” needs to be expanding. As for the internal commons of employees and direct partners, 78% of respondents to Edelman’s survey expect the employer to take responsibility and action to ensure the protection of staff and the wider community.
When it comes to “belonging”, the need for the brands to respond to this need is even greater. In contrast to the imposed physical/social distance, the online environment is the sole way to achieve “proximity”, either in the form of information gate-keeper, or company provider.
This is a reason why we see Facebook and Twitter to be reclaiming over Instagram their previously lost ground in terms of usage. Indicatively, organic reach has exceeded a rise of 190% for Recipe’s customer pages.
Asked how corporate and product communication can be distinguished in the pandemic era, the study answers “by adapting the brand identity and corporate values to the conditions”. In the era of “We Stay Home” there is time, especially for interesting content, so the emphasis should be on e-entertainment and e-ducation, with (corporate / product) stories capitalizing on the potentials provided through Youtube or IGTV. In the same context, solutions such as live streaming are coming to fill the gap of forced physical distance.
During a pandemic, retaining a positive and fun, not frivolously funny content is an element of attention that enhances the public’s relationship with the brand. Primarily if this is fueled through humanly mannered communication, empathizing with the publics’ needs and feelings, notes Recipe’s research, demonstrating the ability to adapt to the pandemic reality that steers the wheel to uncharted waters.
co-written with yiann kardaras