Crisis Communications amid the COVID-19 outbreak

The following is not another run-of-the-mill coronavirus update I assure you, but my observations as a marketer and how to harness branding opportunities without compromising on integrity in your crisis communication writes Kimberley Lim, Deputy Chair of AMI’s WA State Committee.

As marketers, our key communications objectives during crisis moments like now is to focus on:

  • communicating facts
  • providing useful updates, and
  • positioning your brand (more so if your company’s product or service serve the community well).

About my last point – “Is this ambulance-chasing?” I hear your trepidation. My answer is: Yes and No.

Yes, because at the end of all this madness, I want you to remember my company and what we’ve done for you. Besides, it’s my brand that will set me apart from the other standardised COVID-19 updates informing clients about how they’ve’ implemented social distancing and specific sanitization procedures.

No, because my company can really help. If there were positives from the current pandemic, they are from recent, inspiring examples of how companies are genuinely doing good and accumulating brand karma at the same time.

Some tips for us all in MarComms to keep in mind:

1) Give more than you ask

Be honest guys, to your customers and yourself. Is the message you are putting out going to improve the situation? If so, be specific and clear about how someone can obtain those benefits. It should not be a stretch of the imagination.

If you can support innovative transformation (I.e. turning beer brewing to hand sanitizer manufacturing), then you certainly don’t have to shy away from telling the world about what you have to offer.

2) Be helpful

“We hope you never need this, but we will be here if you do.” Kudos to the big bank behind this campaign with one of the best taglines I’ve heard on the radio in a while. While I am not across the product T&C’s, their message is to the point and above all, gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling that they do care about families in need.

Taking the opportunity to offer discounted or free services will go a long way. From @LinkedIn providing free profile reviews to retailers waiving delivery fees, I am confident the goodwill will be reciprocated many-fold.

3) Build a community

Companies need to help forge a community and bring people together, especially in times of uncertainty.

Like many of you, I’ve been inundated with ‘COVID-19 updates’ from businesses who have obtained my contact details over the last decade or so. From banking institutions to utilities and internet providers, even online retail outlets, I might have left an abandoned shopping cart with years ago. In essence, everyone is trying to reassure me about their coronavirus risk-mitigation procedures.

I am not annoyed, however, because they are making an effort to reach out and in many cases, reconnect. Yes, they may be selling something, but through their communications, I learned more about the brand and what their company stood for. That most definitely impacts my decision-making in the future.

4) Kindness starts with you

This is a gentle reminder for everyone to understand why we seem to have a relentless wave of COVID-19 messaging. The evolving COVID-19 situation is an unprecedented, global phenomenon that continuously poses different operational challenges for companies across the globe. There isn’t a choice but to jump into the waves of crisis-management communications and hope messages don’t get drowned out.

For marketers out there, don’t be too hard on yourself to be creative. Right now, it is essential to convey genuine care and to provide the information your clients will need for minimal interruptions.

*This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse by Kimberley Lim – AMI WA State Deputy Chair on 

About the Author

Kimberley Lim

Kimberley Lim is a B2B Marketing and Communications professional with over 15 years of experience in the natural resources industry and a specialisation in Project Management. Having built her career in managing regional marketing operations for industry majors in transformative technologies, she is a natural digital marketing strategist. Kimberley’s experience is backed by tangible results in corporate strategy-building for organic growth and new market expansion, developing brand and product equity, and directing integrated multi-touchpoint lead generation campaigns. Connect with Kimberley

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