Has the coronavirus pandemic created a shift in messaging?

Written by Simon Moss

Every day there are winners and losers when it comes to PR. A prime example is world tennis number one Novak Djokovic, who organised a tennis tournament in Belgrade, Serbia (the country of his birth) at which a number of high-ranking players contracted coronavirus. Hardly a win for his image.

Compare this to the selfless efforts of Marcus Rashford, the 22-year-old Manchester United and England striker who has raised tens of millions of pounds for charity and directly forced a Government U-turn on funding for free school meals over the school holidays.

Brands such as Wetherspoons have taken something of a battering for their treatment of staff, while others have earned almost universal praise for going above and beyond not just to protect what they have but to offer direct support to vulnerable people.

There is a growing acceptance that, as we enter a new stage of the fight against Covid-19, the public will be far less tolerant of brands that appear opportunistic and insensitive, which must give marketing and communications teams pause for thought.

Continuing to churn out stock company messaging, either by ignoring or failing to properly assess the measure of mood among buyers (whether B2B or B2C) will be disastrous for businesses of any industry.

This is where more humanised messaging, that is empathetic and educative, will earn its space. It’s true that, working from home, many are likely to have more time on their hands to consume content, but this creates both risk and opportunity. It means that quality content is more likely to engage, but also means the reader or viewer is more discerning – and likely to be put off by content that is overly corporate or tokenistic.

This ties in to a core belief we have at Element Communications; namely, that brands must operate with authenticity. Buyers are hit with messaging and information from so many different channels, making it difficult to stand out from the crowd. This is where concise messaging that speaks to a challenge and demonstrates how you solve it has its place. It is authentic by design.

In some ways, the Covid-19 pandemic has created an opportunity for marketing teams to listen to their customers and adapt their messaging accordingly. Those that embark on more personal journeys (and develop more human messaging as a result) will be better placed to benefit from the economic recovery.

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