How COVID-19 will change messaging and marketing

The pandemic has changed everything. The old ways of communicating and engaging with customers don’t work anymore. New methods of messaging and marketing will need to be developed. But how can we do that when we don’t know what this new world looks like? This was our topic for discussion at the fourth of our ‘Lunch and Learn’ webinars on ‘How COVID-19 is disrupting marketing and sales.’

We wanted to hear about the key trends in messaging and marketing at a time of enormous change. Our ‘Lunch and Learn’ webinars bring together learners, alumni and other JGA stakeholders, so we can explore how the world of business is changing amidst the huge changes wrought by Coronavirus.

Helen Willliams, a corporate communications and brand consultant, and Louise Rogers, a PR consultant and coach, were our two brilliant speakers and they shared plenty of fascinating ideas. We learned that:

  • It’s time to rip up the rulebook. A traditional crisis comms plan won’t cut it in a pandemic. Helen described how companies will be very reactive, staying close to their audiences and adapting their messaging accordingly. Fast acting, quick thinking and sensitive handling of messaging is key.
  • The tone and emphasis of messaging has changed. Louise pointed out that wellbeing, personal fulfilment and taking a softer tone is key in how marketing has already changed. Some of the messaging needs to be more local as people’s worlds have contracted as they left their normal life of commuting to an office.
  • Marketers and salespeople will need to adapt. Helen described how we are at a point where reality is starting to bite, with recession looming and employment rising. Those messages about reassurance and community may not work so well as this develops. Marketers and comms professionals will have to communicate about some very difficult situations as well as winning consumer confidence for the future, so they will have to take a balanced approach. Sticking close to the brand values should be your north star.
  • Social media is vital. Louise talked about how digital channels are key, using them to respond to comments and questions from customers and taking a caring tone. However constant reassessment will be needed for content, messaging and tone of voice online. This will be quite a labour intensive process but will really help organisations.
  • Be prepared for crisis upon crisis. Many organisations will have been thinking about #BlackLivesMatter and how best to communicate about this whilst also dealing with messaging about the pandemic. Companies will rightly have to deal with the additional scrutiny that comes with this.

Marketing and messaging require plenty of careful thought at the moment, bringing with them opportunities and challenges