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COVID-19: Effective Digital Communications During a Second Spike
14 October 2020
The initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on people’s online consumption habits. Use of social media and digital platforms rose sharply, with many of us continuously seeking information, whilst looking to remain connected and communicate with each other during lockdown.
Now, following the recent reinstatement of certain lockdown measures and reports of increased COVID-19 cases across the UK, corporates are facing new challenges amid a shifting digital landscape.
Within this context, people are unlikely to respond in the same way they did the first time around. Patience and tolerance for the unknown could be rapidly replaced by increased scrutiny of corporate responses and a demand for clear, immediate communications as people scramble to process further uncertainty to their livelihoods.
This begs the question: how can corporates ensure their online communications are prepared for further crisis?
Firstly, it is important to gauge what your audience is looking for. During a period of uncertainty, accuracy and transparency is key. Corporates have the opportunity to take control of online conversations by providing clear and correct information for their customers and employees. This is important to re-assure your audience and in keeping messaging consistent.
Customers, clients and employees will also increasingly be looking for online leadership. Leveraging key company spokespeople on corporate channels can provide an authentic and personal touch to information sharing, particularly when people are turning to online platforms in place of physical spaces for guidance and support.
As companies begin preparing their messaging for a potential second lockdown, there are several further factors that are important to remain aware of. For instance, there will likely be significant shifts in audience sentiment, as an extended lockdown will cause further swings in the public’s mood and morale. Therefore, what might have made a good message during the first wave may not be appropriate in the second.
Furthermore, without the option to gather in public spaces, activism will live predominantly online, with social media being the obvious choice to share opinions and quickly generate momentum among audiences in real time. This makes it essential that monitoring for changes in sentiment or advocacy be in place.
Similarly, in-person conferences, meetings and events will likely be cancelled, and companies will need to look to take their events online where they will have the chance to reach even more people than before. This means being prepared to face a range of questions, challenges or engagement from a wider audience will be essential.
As digital and social media become more important than ever to remain connected, the practical steps we outline can ensure corporate communications remain effective in the event of further crisis.