It’s not time to do less in comms, but time to do more of the right thing
So the new world of working is here for what could potentially be weeks, and three days in we wanted to share how we as a team are rethinking norms to ensure all the key elements of PR still happen as they should, and on the right level.
It’s not necessarily the time to do less, but the time to do more of the right thing. Short term challenges still need to consider ongoing and long term brand vision
For example the consumer magazines we deal with on a daily basis are all working on a business as usual basis with editorial being written, pages to fill and shoots underway, for publication deadlines 3-4 months in the future. Trade media will be even more keen for opinion, perspective and insight than ever – as long as it is relevant to the ‘now’.
Planning ahead is the business as usual attitude we need, but with some immediate review and refection on what needs to change for practical or contextual reasons.
Social channel content is a key area for this where all needs to be reviewed for message, choice of images, and tone of voice. Possibly even new strategic pillars around which to focus in the short term. Lifestyle heavy content that showcases people together / socialising / outdoors needs to be discussed – is it appropriate? How can we bring a sense of community to life with social channels during this time of hopefully short term societal shift? The same applies to influencer content – review, assess timing and discuss with the influencer their take on their own channels over the coming weeks, as shifts in content or timing may benefit all.
The same goes for editorial messaging and the need to reality check who will care at this time about what we have to say. It’s not a no go area, just a go smartly one. This applies to the heart of the story, the call to action within it, and the craft of knowing when to talk to the media, with a considered understanding of rolling news developments.
In some cases we may need to think more brand stories than product, with brand values more important and appropriate to share than ‘buy me now’ messages. We are in the decade of delivery for brands showing they can make a difference and in tough times it’s time to stand up and be counted. Now is the moment to act and help communities, the elderly and the self isolating. Content doesn’t have to be a long term production task as message is more important than production values.
Brands and businesses could use their voice and reach to recognise the exceptional work of individuals in this time of crisis and help bring people together in spirit. The emergency services are key and don’t forget the army of volunteers (maybe from your own business) working in a small way at local level. How can you support, applaud and encourage?
And this same spirit of unity also counts for the internal comms priority, with transparency, regularity and alignment with anything being said externally needing regular review and delivery. It may not all be positive news that is being shared, but method and model are vital for understanding and pulling together.
Events in any form need to be reconsidered and replanned if due to land before July, with a digital (boosted) content alternative being a good start point. Going brand dark is not necessarily the answer when appetite for content will always remain high. It’s a question of what content, and recognizing the value in storytelling that is flexible and relevant for the moment rather than brand fixed.
Back to where we started: now is not the time to communicate less. Just differently. And with a similar end end goal – but with shifted timing and format – in mind. It’s an important time for both factual and positive storytelling when rumours can spread and unsettle too easily. And positivity will return.
So not being in the office can’t get in the way of what is business critical.
Slack is our conversation channel of choice that trumps email for immediacy, for tailored sub groups of chat, and for the necessary humour we all need to get us through challenging times. Almost as quick as shouting across the desks…
And gotomeeting, Zoom or Microsoft Teams are our video link ups, for meetings of many, for daily newspaper reading ‘collectively’ amongst our team for example, and for the human contact that helps drive the right decisions. If meetings can be visual make them so, as they bring to life passions, responses and reactions in the way that a phone call can’t.
Change is of course a constant. And currently unprecedented for modern times. But the nature of such a constant is that right ways through will always be found.