For companies whose products and services are aiding the fight against COVID-19, business is booming. For many others, however, the pressures of the ongoing pandemic are forcing them to make significant organizational changes meant to help them survive the next few months. In the face of tightened budgets and uncertain markets, many in this latter group are opting to trim their communications programs. For example, Nielsen found that many brands are making drastic cuts to their marketing spending during this time. But is eliminating or deferring communications efforts to save capital really so strategic?
The truth is, taking a break from brand promotion will likely set companies back in the long run, as they’ll have to rebuild their public image from scratch once they finally decide the time is right to resume communications. It’s in companies’ best interest instead to continue investing in public relations and communications in order to maintain share of voice in their respective industries.
PR keeps your brand in critical conversations
The idea of playing it safe by stepping out of the public eye until business stabilizes might seem smart, but the consequences of this tactic can be much more negative than brands anticipate. By stopping media communications, brands remove themselves from the public’s consciousness—giving competitors an opportunity to fill their space in the market. Even worse, suddenly going quiet might convey to audiences that they have something to hide, or that they’ve simply gone away.
Moreover, the consequences of suspending communication efforts can extend well after this moment. Nielsen discovered that it can take, on average, over a year for 47% of the impact of marketing specifically to be realized, meaning once brands decide to resume campaigns, it may still be months—and significant investment—before they see a return.
In order to convey that they’re still in strong standing—whether this is entirely accurate or not—companies must present a consistent image in the media, sharing company updates and value propositions to remind audiences why they should engage. It may even be that competitors are also considering suspending their PR efforts for the time being, in which case those brands who forge ahead will stand out even more to audiences.
Account for current realities when evaluating and re-evaluating your program
While companies should continue their communications efforts, they might still need to course correct given how much the business landscape—and the larger world—have changed since the start of 2020. Campaigns planned at the start of the year might miss the mark in today’s media. Especially if a brand’s offerings aren’t directly relevant to the pandemic, reevaluating its messaging in light of the current climate will help avoid any risks of sounding tone-deaf or insensitive. In order to affirm the company’s value and truly connect with targets, communications teams should identify how their particular customers’ needs have evolved over the past few months so that they can build timely, considerate and responsive strategies.
Likewise, organizations may need to temporarily modify expectations for success. With reporters largely still covering coronavirus-related topics, the business press is more difficult to break into, meaning executives’ and key stakeholders’ expectations for achievable media goals may need to be reset. At V2, we’ve been fortunate to work with clients whose ambitions and successes haven’t slowed in the slightest over the past few months, though together we’re consciously and proactively updating media plays to ensure they land as poignantly as possible.
Business disruptions like the ongoing pandemic and the subsequent slashings of revenue and budgets aren’t sufficient cause for pausing PR programs. Rather, it’s critical for companies’ long-term success that they remain steadfast in their communications efforts so that they maintain—if not increase—their share of voice in the market and establish brand personae that customers feel connected to and inclined to continue engaging with.
See how V2 can help companies navigate these uniquely challenging times and create a PR roadmap that will drive survival and success for the long term here.