In this update, we’ve spoken to Claire Gamble, MD of Unhooked Communications who’s given us an insight on how to get your COVID-19 comms right.
Businesses across multiple sectors have already been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Whether businesses are working out how to move offline activity to online, managing teams remotely, experiencing a dip – or surge – in orders and enquiries, or debating difficult HR and operations decisions, there is a lot for business owners and senior management teams to contend with at the moment.
And with so much change and uncertainty, many businesses will also have to work out how best to keep their customers, employees, suppliers, partners and other stakeholders up to date, engaged and reassured. But when it comes to communications and marketing during the current global pandemic, it’s a fine line between getting it right and ending up in a PR nightmare.
At Unhooked Communications, we carried out research to find out what consumers think about brands’ Covid-19 comms.
According to the research, which questioned 2,000 people between 25 and 27 March 2020, a third (32 per cent) said they have received ‘too much’ or ‘far too much’ content from businesses relating to coronavirus in the last two weeks. A quarter (23 per cent) find the level of information from businesses ‘overwhelming’ and a fifth said it’s ‘worrying’.
Getting comms wrong during the pandemic can have serious consequences, with more than one in ten people saying they’ve boycotted a business because of what or how they’ve communicated in recent weeks.
On top of this, one in ten people have seen businesses they don’t trust sharing information they’re not sure is accurate. Additionally, 28 per cent of consumers have received Covid-19 emails from businesses they don’t remember signing up for or haven’t heard from in a long time, raising questions around GDPR compliance.
But, businesses shouldn’t despair. Over a third (36 per cent) have seen organisations sharing ‘useful’ information, and over a fifth (23 per cent) have seen businesses sharing ‘thoughtful’ content or ‘good news’, which made them feel more positive.
When planning your comms, you need to make sure you’re choosing the right channel too. According to the research, the most popular channel for consumers to receive information from businesses relating to Covid-19 was email, which was the preferred choice for 37 per cent. This was followed by the media – such as newspapers, TV and radio – which 30 per cent said was their preferred channel.
Social media was only the preferred channel to access Covid-19 comms for 6 per cent. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean businesses should shun social media all together. Instead, they should think about how to most effectively use the various platforms, for example, sharing positive stories or community news.
It’s understandable that a lot of businesses are worried about how they communicate during the global coronavirus crisis. No doubt we’ve all seen high profile cases of brands getting it wrong, with the likes of Sports Direct, Wetherspoons, and Britannia Hotels all facing criticism from the public for how they’ve handled their operations and comms.
Although there are potentially disastrous consequences if organisations get it wrong, there is a place for good news and useful information. The public respond favourably to this and there are some real opportunities organisations that can share some positivity during these uncertain times.
6 key considerations to help you get your Covid-19 comms right:
- Strategy: As with all PR and communications, you need to make sure your strategy is right. Who you do need to communicate with, what do you need to say and what are you trying to achieve?
- Action: If you share positive messages publicly, but you’ve not made sure your HR and operations are all in line, then you could face backlash. On the other hand, there are some great examples of businesses who are going above and beyond to help and support people, and these lend themselves to genuinely positive stories.
- Manage bad news: If you do have bad news, such as redundancies or even business closures, you need to manage it. All comms should put people first and you should show empathy and offer support.
- Spread positivity: As the research shows, it pays to be positive. It also helps to reassure people if they can see that it’s ‘business as usual’ for organisations. The public are keen to hear about good news and there are some great media opportunities if you’ve got some uplifting, feel good stories to share.
- Relevance: One of the main problems appears to be businesses creating and sharing content for the sake of it, adding to the noise and uncertainty. So make sure all your communications are relevant and necessary.
- Long-term: Many businesses will be updating their business plans and strategy in line with the sudden changes they’re facing. Whether you’re thinking about the next six months or next five years, make sure your PR and comms plan is in line to help you achieve your business goals.
For full details of the study, visit: https://weareunhooked.com/covid-19-comms-data/
Have you seen our recent article from Bradley’s Accountants on financial advice for the COVID-19 pandemic?