COVID-19: Now what, communicators?

Week one: we communicators, advertisers and marketers settled into remote working with Slack and Zoom going into overdrive. We connected with staff and partners to keep communications, advertising and marketing for clients.   

Now what?

Retreat? Charge ahead? Stay the course? Your strategies, budgets, timing, capabilities and organization’s objectives will surely influence that decision. 

But right now, whatever you can do, you should. Whatever course you need to take, you can take some solace in the big opportunity to connect with your audiences in the months ahead. Why? 


People are now consuming media like crazy. 

OpenVault: “…average downstream usage per customer in urban areas rose 98.3% while upstream usage per customer climbed 68.6% on Monday, March 16 compared to a week earlier.”

Nielsen: “…staying put in our homes can lead to almost a 60% increase in the amount of content we watch…”

And the national and local nightly news broadcasts are seeing big numbers.

DNYUZ: “ABC’s ‘World News Tonight’ and the ‘NBC Nightly News’ had an average of about 12 million viewers for each of their newscasts last week, among the biggest totals for all network shows, according to Nielsen. Those figures are roughly the same as an average ‘Monday Night Football’ game.”

Strategies and messaging that help

Is anything off in your overall strategy and messaging of your communications given the new abnormal normal we’re in? Are you sure that saying the same old thing is the best strategy right now? It may be. Or you should alter messaging to be of help or of value with the emerging behaviors, needs and insights that are happening in our new reality. Either way, you’ll need to continually look at your audience, strategies and messaging to ensure they’re in alignment. 

Think context. Tone. Message. In the UK, KFC paused their finger licking good campaign

Ford changed quickly, ditching their national vehicle buy and replacing it with a heartfelt credit assistance message

Nike’s work about COVID-19 launched in social media and aimed at helping prevent the spread with a great campaign theme line, “Play inside, play for the world.”

Of course it’s not all about your communications as we move ahead. What new products or services can you offer to existing or new audiences? Restaurants jumped in right away with curb side pickup. Musicians are live streaming shows. Breweries are offering beer delivery. 

Best bets  

Social media usage is growing. Broadcast news viewership is growing. Search is more relevant for some categories. Direct mail and email deliver a more captive audience than a month ago. Doing research with your audience will give you valuable insights on what they need, want and consume right now. And with the huge number of people working from home, they may be more inclined to participate with online panels or surveys. 

On the flip side, event and experiential marketing, trade show and conference marketing are obviously not good bets now. BMW’s marketing chief Uwe Dreher says, “It will be a year of compromise…I don’t hope it, but it could be we don’t run events for the next six months.” 

There certainly are plenty of places to meet your audience out there. But what you’re offering, what you’re saying and where you’re saying it needs to be looked at with continually fresh eyes. However you can be relevant in your owned, earned and social media to your ever-growing captive audience, you should.

We’re doing exactly that as we work together apart for our clients, and for each other. Be well.