#corona is changing communication

In nearly two months of dealing with the virus and a little over a month that most of us has spent in the safe haven of our home offices, we got through the initial crisis management and the subsequent process of adapting to the new reality. As the whole situation and its dimensions were completely new and full of questions for everyone, the future is also extremely uncertain and will require constant adapting.

The importance of communication and public relations has proven to be essential in this time in the eyes of many, I hope, and it is worthwhile to invest in this area already at the time of peace and prosperity. This may be, after all, one of the lessons of dealing with the corona crisis. We can also learn that communication never ends. Despite the changed environment, the way we work and the current uncertainty, it is still necessary and advisable to communicate in most cases. Consumer relations simply cannot be wasted even though we do not offer our products in the online store. It is precisely in times of crisis that we seek to find solutions, information and are more receptive to connecting with the brand if it impresses us. The way we communicate will leave a lasting impression on various public.

Corporate communication needs to be tailored in the light of the crisis. Talking about your product as the most important and indispensable thing – while it does not bring health or solution at the time of the epidemic – is in most cases a shot in the knee. Following the communication plans and communication messages or campaigns will also not bring any results. Adapting to the new situation is one of the main tasks of communicators, and it must also include paying more attention and empathy to the employees. We also need to show a great deal of flexibility, because we simply do not know how long we will be stuck in the current situation.

Red Havas agency has identified five communication trends in the time of coronavirus based on data from around the world:

Capturing captive attention

Going out is not recommended, which is why we spend more time at home, watching TV, read more about what is happening around the world. But we see it all only through the prism of viral diseases. The key task of communicators is to tailor their messages so that they are interesting to the media and reporters and, last but not least, relevant to the user at a time when he is only interested in staying healthy and get through the quarantine with enough toilet paper.

Conscious communication

Companies had to adjust their tone and manner of communication in real time and unfamiliar circumstances. They had to provide relevant information without unnecessary talking, and at the same time offer a hand to the public in the fight against coronavirus. Even if the help is about communicating your exercising ideas in the living room and pointing out the necessity to follow the advice of the competent institutions – #stayhome. Unadjusted communication is perceived as insensitive and inappropriate more than ever by the consumers, and they emotionally distance themselves from the brand as a result.

Back to social basics

On social networks, of course. And we were encouraged by government officials, too to use them. Understandably, most businesses have devoted themselves to the activities on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc. The calls for purchases were often or at least largely replaced by the incentive to spend time with family, keep conversations alive, to care for the fellow human beings, and the most vulnerable ones. The corona crisis has led us to ask ourselves, before pressing the “publish” button, how the post helps anyone who will see it or listen to it.

Influence Innovates

While travel and fashion trends and related influencers has currently been put on the back burner, cooking tips, home workouts, and tips on how to improve your toddler’s concentration get much more attention. In the face of many challenges on social networks, digital influencers also need to reflect on their activities. Reluctant communication can lead to a sharp decline in followers and, consequently, to more difficult engagement after the crisis. Once again, it appears that those who show a realistic and authentic image of their daily lives gain the most.

The rise of “phyrtual reality”[1]

The real experience of attending a concert, sporting event and similar gatherings of a large number of people currently seems very distant. Like any crisis, this one too represents an opportunity to accelerate processes in the field of transition to the virtual world. Awareness that many meetings, brainstorming or conversation can be done without any trouble and more efficiently using Skype, Zoom or FaceTime, is – I hope – the least of what we take back to “normal” circumstances. Although attending major live events can never be replaced by the digital world, the capabilities of modern technology are nevertheless proving to be a great opportunity to further connect with the public. The Easter online Andrea Bocelli concert was attended by 2.8 million people, some wine shops offer virtual tasting experiences and many other organizations have come up with new ways to stay in touch with their stakeholders.

Communication has therefore changed. Above all, it has largely focused on helping people and the survival. In the first phase of dealing with the epidemic, a lot of space and will – including of the media – was devoted to corporate donations, which is one of the indications that they are aware of their role in the environment they operate in. It appears that some measures will stay in our daily lives for some time, so it will be necessary to find ways in the future how to reach various audiences successfully and effectively.

For those who make sure that the world still turns even during the epidemic – to ensure the food, the refueling services, TV program and use the Internet, to make sure we are able to call relatives, friends and acquaintances –, the transition to the next phase is easier from the communication point of view since they have been able to do a lot of good for their stakeholders even during the biggest crisis. For those who have abandoned their communication activities, it will be more difficult to continue as they can expect not many individuals will be able to easily forget the crisis and pretend nothing has happened.

Red Havas research is available at: https://redhavas.com/red-havas-releases-new-predictions-about-what-communicators-can-expect-post-pandemic/

[1] Our “virtual” lives had become indistinguishable from our “physical” lives.

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