Brands in crisis – From “turnover” to a “three-point” chance

COVID-19 changed our daily routine and new circumstances require us to “regroup” and change the way we live. The same applies to companies! Businesses need continuity, and in real-time we are witnessing the changes in marketing. 

At Ketchum, we see the lifecycle of the ongoing crisis in four phases: impact of the new situation, regrouping of internal and external capacities, rebound (for a new business strategy), and new normal. As much as it can seem challenging, each phase offers space for proactive communication and marketing handled with flexibility and authenticity. Of, course, people and their needs come first.

How to recognize and use each phase

Impact is something that we’re all feeling as we’re getting used to working from home, balancing between family and our jobs, tracking the virus spread, and learning about our new life in isolation. We fight against the impact this pandemic has on society, trying to protect and help ourselves and our families and friends. The focus is on communication with employees, providing physical, material and emotional support to everyone in our environment who needs it. In light of these challenges, we are working with retail businesses, factories and other sectors on employee protection, adjusting working hours. We’re helping companies communicate information about changes in services they provide, shifting to on-line and delivery…

As we enter the second phase, regrouping, clients are adjusting to the new way of doing business. We are witnessing the change toward services with purpose and directed towards the community. Fashion designers are now making protection masks. Brands in other business segments shift production lines to producing sanitizers, and grocery stores collecting donations for food banks. Clients who don’t have these options, choose substantial donations, and we’re here to help those reach the ones who need them the most.

Many of our clients used this phase to change their plans and messages to send through different channels. Cancelled meetings became virtual, influencer marketing and brands focussed on topics adjusted to the new needs at home and isolation, and the content got a new tone and timing. Forward-thinking brands embraced the new ideas that engage consumers in the right way as we experience this crisis together.

Phase three is a rebound. Our social practices have changed. We are looking for new ways to stay fit, entertain our children or home school. As communicators, we help our clients define new normal and help consumers and companies to adjust: innovative virtual events; speakers who know how to connect on social networks with even better content and visuals to teach and entertain; new ways for filling gaps of postponed or cancelled sports events, conferences and concerts.

There are many gaps to fill, and in this next phase, we’ll distinct easily the ones who got prepared from the ones who’ll need more time to recover. This requires planning and multi-level teams.  A response team which will continue to manage crisis and deal with reactive communications. And advance team which will envisage needs and develop plans for adding to ongoing activities and invent new normal. And by activating both teams, it will take less time for companies to recover through meaningful, high-impact marketing and shift from crisis to well-thought-out action.

Whether marketers are ready or not, we’ll all face phase four: new normal. Creative planning requires preparation, imagination and clear understanding of what consumers want and need. How will the current pandemic permanently change our future habits? Will home offices become a lasting option for many? Will physical exercise become a family thing?

More strict hygiene practices don’t mean we won’t shake hands anymore, but new social norms will emerge.

Benjamin Franklin said:” Failing to plan is planning to fail.” In these uncertain times, it might be difficult to see beyond basic needs, but if you don’t plan your next step, you’re denying an opportunity for a better future of your clients and employees.

If you want to learn more about creative planning and keeping up with social trends for finding new normal, we’re here to help.

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