Crisis Management and Marketing Communication Through Coronavirus Crisis
Posted on 2020 May,12  | By Gaby Chamat

With so many uncertainties in these unprecedented times, it may be hard for managers and marketers to figure out how to face the Coronavirus crisis, therefore your management and marketing skills should be at their top.

Naturally, few weeks following the outbreak of the pandemic, humans started focusing on themselves and shifted into protecting themselves worried about their individual wellbeing, their families, their staff members, their clients, and their communities. And this is reflected clearly through social media, where citizens were urged to follow the government imposed safety guidelines. So they ended up building bridges within their communities and neighbors and uniting together against this invisible enemy.

Part and full lockdown have kept people at home, with different behaviors and trends. They adapted various habits to spend time and get entertained and distressed in order to escape this unexpected lockdown status: sleeping, eating, working from home, consumers have turned to TV broadcast and other available cable television and premium media sources for credible information. They were also seeking more in the way of escapism and entertainment — downloading gaming apps, spending even more time on social media, and streaming more movies and scripted programming. And between remote working arrangements and live-streamed workout classes, college/university classes, and social engagements, we are always testing the bandwidth.

Meanwhile, the need for groceries and physical goods is placing pressure on new channels, with high demand for e-commerce rising to new different levels. For shoppers who take the initiative to go out, neighborhood groceries shops and small supermarkets are the source for these essentials. Hygienic, safety and health concerns are driving shoppers more toward frictionless payment systems, such as mobile pay and pay cards.

Some behavioral changes might be temporary, but many might be permanent, as many people move beyond this actual mode of survival; the momentum behind digital-experience adoption is unlikely to reverse, as people were forced by circumstances to try new advanced things and rethink the way they do business. With all these changes occurring during these difficult times, what actions can companies adopt to serve and grow their market share and billings, engage their target audience in a creative practical way and plan the future of their organizations.

1. Social responsibility and transparency

Consumers feel defenseless right now. Compassion is critical. Many companies have shown sympathy to that and supported their staff members and customers in a smart way to engage them more into loyalty and be socially and commercially responsible like for instances show humility in the face of a force larger than all of us.

The tonality of brand voice is more sensitive than ever. Companies and brands that use this time to be commercially manipulative will not price well. In these moments, we need to acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers therefore we don’t need to give any promise as making promises during unsure times will put you at risk of failing to deliver what you have promised.

2. Tracking habits and people’s trends

Keeping an eye on the new habits during this ‘new normal’ is essential to understand people’s new way of life and behavioral trends will help marketers gain better insights in real time. Agencies and marketers need to measure the sentiment and consumption trends on a consistent basis to work on new creative and content messaging, closely watching over the dialogue across social-media platforms, community sites, and e-commerce shopping portals to look for promised opportunities and identify potential crises more quickly. Therefore agencies and companies should quickly consider building database to nurture the right decisions.

Marketing, finance, management and operations should immediately evaluate every marketing plan or decision and work closely to forecast different scenarios and potential outcomes, depending on how long the crisis will last.

3. Connect your company and brand with good

People will remember brands for their acts of good in a time of crisis, particularly if done with true heart and generosity. This could take the form of donating to food banks, providing free products for medical personnel, or continuing to pay employees while the company’s doors are closed. Adobe, for example, immediately made Creative Cloud available to K-12 institutions, knowing this was a moment to give rather than be purely commercial. Consumers will likely remember how Ford, GE, and 3M partnered to repurpose manufacturing capacity and put people back to work to make respirators and ventilators to fight coronavirus. And people appreciate that many adult beverage companies, from Diageo to AB InBev, repurposed their alcohol-manufacturing capabilities to make hand sanitizer, alleviating short supplies with their “It’s in our hands to make a difference” message.

Feel-good creative content and materials that release anxiety and encourages positive messaging will surely enhance the brand. Making sure that companies need to show that their positive contributions are real and socially responsible and not only for commercial benefit. Consumers discover authenticity and real purpose immediately

4. Use media in a flexible manner

Marketers with the assistance of their communication agencies can maneuver their main creative messages strategies according to the surrounding circumstances to get faster reaction and response. Remote assistance from your creative team and agency is important to adopt new messages advising their customers to stay indoor and at home on the selected media and to stay protected.

Beside creative adoption and fast adaptation to new status, marketers and agencies tend to consider changing actual media mix to reach the same audience through their new present media consumption for more effective engagement through ad-supported digital platforms: video streaming, gaming and broadcast while evaluating the reach amongst audience and achieved impressions.

5. Novelty in working together virtually

The encouraging positive drive from this negative crisis is really encouraging, seeing how  fast many companies were able to adapt and go to different remote working arrangements. Utilizing collaboration remote technologies can effortlessly provide chat, file sharing, virtual meetings and call capabilities, enabling teams to stay connected and remain productive. Fortunately, unexpectedly, new sources of novelty and even margin improvement will emerge out of our current discomfort.

How we can plan for the next and the beyond

We have already acknowledged and adapted the new phase of the Covid-19 pandemic but this is not enough we have to adjust to the actual situation, manage the crisis and think positively on planning our life for the life beyond the crisis, which will change our way of life if it didn’t already.

As we traverse what we know, marketing top leaders must work differently to keep their brands and customer journeys as perfect as possible, while working internally to achieve four complications:

  1. Identify the true impact of business interruption and continue to expect the unexpected.
  2. Slender into more digital ways of engaging with customers, knowing that this will surely have lasting solid effects.
  3. Companies’ teams and departments consolidation and fast decision-taking to respond to market’s demands
  4. Diminish risks to the customer engagement experience by planning realistically from the outside-in.

Categorically, there is a mandatory acceleration of the digital transformation agenda, as we recognize how quickly customers and employees have incorporated digitally enabled journeys and experiences. Brands are all having to think, operate, and lead in new ways during these uncertain, unexpected and unprecedented circumstances and we will all have to adapt to it together with both confidence and modesty.

*Gaby Bechara Chamat is the Chief Executive Officer at Verse Communications Group, Dubai, UAE