Right now it’s about being as prepared as possible to be able to act swiftly when the time comes.
Whilst short-term COVID-19 is hitting businesses and their staff hard, communications experts need to think long-term and keep building brands, protecting staff and honouring core values.
Clients, partners, parents, grandparents, neighbours, team members, we are certainly riding this rollercoaster of coronavirus together, navigating the downs and occasional ups along the way. One clear ‘up’ is the sunshine that has blanketed the UK these past few weeks, whilst damaging to social distancing measures for the foolish, it has been welcome relief on my daily constitutional.
Whilst we have seen a shift in behaviour across clients, the need to insulate, protect and shield their businesses is, for many, their only priority, we have also witnessed and continue to witness an ever increasing need for our communications consultancy during these unprecedented times.
As John Harrington, editor, PRWeek UK wrote last week, “now is not the time to reduce investment in comms.” But he would say that wouldn’t he…let’s not just take the industry’s trade publication’s word on this, we just need to look at the winners and losers over decades of economic ups and downs. Those that won were investing in and continued to communicate in order to succeed:
- Kelloggs: In the 1920’s, Post was the category leader in the ready-to-eat cereal category. During the Great Depression, Post cut back significantly its communications budget and rival Kellogg’s doubled its spend, investing heavily in marketing and introducing a new cereal called Rice Krispies, featuring “Snap,” “Crackle” and “Pop.” Kellogg’s profits grew by 30% and the company became the category leader, a position it has maintained for decades.
- Amazon: Amazon sales grew by 28% in 2009 during the “great recession.” The tech company continued to innovate with new products during the slumping economy, most notably with new Kindle products which helped to grow market share. In a first, on Christmas Day 2009, Amazon customers bought more e-books than printed books.
- Lego: When you think about families cutting costs to save money during times of economic struggle, you’d imagine plastic building toys to be at the top of the list of expendable luxuries. Yet, while most companies were scrambling to survive during the ‘great recession of 2009’ Lego saw profit growth of more than 63 percent, reaching an all-time high of profitability.
We are helping clients navigate the challenges thrown their way by this deadly virus, be that:
- Being part of innovation discussions to ensure diversification and longevity,
- helping devise and deliver a crisis and issues strategy,
- ensuring evolution and clarity in messaging,
- consistency across internal and external comms, or
- timeliness of content development and social media outreach.
Ever cognisant of the fact that how brands, businesses and organisations respond to this pandemic will have a huge impact on future reputation with audiences. We have already witnessed some car crash PR disasters such as Wetherspoons, Sports Direct and Premier League football clubs to name just a sprinkling, many of which could have been swiftly avoided with clear PR counsel.
Ready to act
In addition to steering clients through the COVID-19 minefield day to day, we are also advising, preparing, planning and creating for clients across sectors to ensure that when this global pandemic subsides, which it will, they are fully ready to take advantage of the consumer and corporate behaviour shift, capitalise on their position and drive forward creative comms solutions that will deliver an immediate bottom line impact.
To those businesses, that are have switched off their comms budgets, they will not be in the same state of preparedness that is able to jump on economic opportunity when it comes.
It isn’t only about businesses changing shape and broadening their offer as they navigate the future direction of travel in a post ‘lockdown’ world it is about constant, clever and strategic change for the better. As methods of communications and traditional PR workstreams evolve, we are adept at evolving, being a step ahead and jumping on the latest technological solution that ensures we are delivering creative, engaging content direct to audiences on our client’s behalf.
John Harrington stated only last week: “Comms professionals are also among the most versatile in the services sector. In recent years there has been a huge expansion in the types of services offered by PR agencies: from digital and content-creation skills to expertise on employee engagement, public affairs and social-media influencer outreach.”
At BECG we are certainly adaptable, responsive and capable of delivering for our clients, pandemic or no pandemic. We offer only the best counsel and strategic advice, whilst ensuring we deliver creative solutions that meet your business and communications objectives.