A world dramatically changed calls for an altogether new approach to communications.
Your communications programs should focus on four major thematic shifts:
- Shareholder capitalism
- Corporate purposes
- The new working world
- New corporate strategies
Adjust news releases to align with these narratives. Refocus your blogs and overall content strategy. Refresh your website copy. Rework executive speeches. Revise corporate employee videos.
Comprehensively change your communications plan. World events dictate you must for your business to be sensitive to peoples’ new needs and concerns, both within and outside your company.
- Embrace shareholder capitalism.
This crisis has sped up the need for companies to de-emphasize capitalism purely for profit’s sake. Shareholder capitalism embraces the notion that there must be more substance to your business than making money.
Inform in a way that shows your company is attuned to the notion of shareholder capitalism. It will help your organization gain more respect and loyalty from customers and grow faster over the longer turn when we get beyond the worst phases of this crisis.
Make known how your company helps solve the pandemic’s problems, such as opening corporate office facilities for coronavirus testing or enabling your employees to take time off from work to serve people at food banks.
Communicate more about your company’s belief in a higher cause and the greater good of society. De-emphasize materialistic financial performance achievements.
Embracing the shareholder capitalism mindset, companies will likely be more successful in the long run because their brands will be associated with caring about people and their health. Reinforce to customers that your company is going the extra mile to protect people from the coronavirus.
- Focus on corporate purpose.
Customers will resonate with stories about how your company is making your employees safer and putting their needs and those of society above your own self-interests.
Share less about how well your company is performing. People have more pressing and serious issues on their minds. During this crisis, selfish bragging about how much money your company makes could turn off customers and employees.
Reveal more about what your company believes and why you are in business to begin with. Show your passion, why you get up in the morning, what your higher calling is, what your company stands for above all else—including turning a profit.
You can tell them later what business you’re in and how you do it.
These ideas have been amplified in a book by Simon Sinek titled “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.”
“Companies and organizations with a clear sense of why don’t think of themselves as being like anyone else and they don’t have to convince anyone of their value,” Sinek writes. “They are different, and everyone knows it.”
Be that company that takes a stand for something, such as caring more about the community and solving the pandemic. Goodwill be generated and more business will flow your way eventually.
- Adapt to the new world of work.
In so many fundamental ways, the world of work is going to be different because of the pandemic. Communications should focus on the accelerating use of technologies and the growth in direct-to-consumer businesses.
Be specific about the technologies being used, how, by which employees, and for what reasons. How is your company approaching this in ways that no one else has? Tell that story.
Remote workers will be using various technologies such as Zoom to hold conference calls. Pitching storylines to customers and the press aligned with these trends could illuminate the challenges employees are having using these technologies. Bring to life the clever and effective ways they are being used, and the investments being made including how much your company is investing in which technologies and why.
- Consider new corporate strategies.
With many businesses at a virtual standstill the past two months, many companies have reassessed their strategic positioning, unique selling points, product portfolios and long-term investment plans.
Some of them have decided to overhaul their businesses in fundamental ways. For instance, they might have decided to no longer provide products and only services.
They might have decided to embrace a strategy that makes competitors irrelevant. Using this approach, illuminated in a stellar business book called The Blue Ocean Strategy, these companies could have decided that they want their products and services to be distinct and unique from everything else on the market.
Think about the iPhone when it first came out. There was nothing else really like it. There were no true competitors. It was a product sailing out in the clear blue ocean as opposed to the red oceans characterized by “bloody” competition fraught with devastating price competition. In the blue ocean no one is doing anything comparable to you so it’s essentially competition-free—liberating and exciting.
As this pandemic continues, communicate more about these types of major strategic shifts. But don’t do this in a self-serving way merely touting the wisdom of your particular company. Convey a narrative about how your company has made its community top of mind and is taking concrete, philanthropic actions to help solve the coronavirus crisis.
Whether producing news releases, blogs, byline articles, videos, podcasts or some other content, the tone of communications needs to be more sensitive and less self-serving. Virtually everything about business must be reimagined because of the massive impacts the pandemic will continue to have on the global economy.
Corporate storylines should be loftier and visionary, more focused on how companies are being honest with their employees and treating them with dignity and demonstrating respect for every worker. Communicate about how your company is showing it cares.
We’re in a starkly different time than just a few months ago. It’s not an understatement to say the entire business world has been sent into shock and will never be the same.
Charles Hartley is the president of Carolina Content & Media Relations Corporation based in Davidson, North Carolina. He can be reached at Charles.firstname.lastname@example.org – www.carolina-content.com.