COVID-19 Comms: Developing Communications Plans for Crisis Recovery and Beyond
The road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is becoming imminent, as infection rates in some APAC markets such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam, are declining. As governments prepare to implement measures to kickstart their economies, public concerns have shifted from crisis response to navigating economic and social recovery. Thus, it is crucial for communications professionals to adapt their strategies to reconnect with their audiences.
In the latest episode of PR Newswire’s webinar series on COVID Comms, we get crisis recovery insights from John Kerr, CEO of Edelman Singapore, and Riley Heng, Country Manager, Australia and Head of Marketing at MetroResidences.
Kerr highlighted four areas of opportunity that communicators should keep in mind when they shape their crisis recovery plans.
1. Have business coherence
In the post-COVID-19 age, organizations need to show that they can remain relevant. Hence, it is important to build brand resilience, which is the result of establishing a brand reputation and trust. This gives brands the capacity to anticipate unforeseen events. “The best path towards resilience is agility and planning for the reality of dealing with multiple issues that pop up every day,” he said. “As long as you have coherence and everything is defendable from what you say and what you do, then you should be okay.” In order to achieve business coherence, brands can conduct an audit of their actions and experiences provided by their touchpoints and operational systems.
2. Know your audience
These days, understanding your customers can be done in innovative ways through data analytics. Everything, from their whereabouts to the types of messages they engage with, can be analyzed. Kerr added that Edelman’s predictive intelligence center spearheads new ways of piecing a complete picture of consumers which is more relevant and effective than the traditional ways of building customer segments and personas.
To that end, he shared how Edelman developed an emotion tracking device for Shell Malaysia, which analyses the feelings of people driving on certain roads. The results were used to determine the type of F&B offerings at petrol stations, which saw sales increase by 15%.
3. Transmedia storytelling
Brands need to take a leaf from the books of news companies, which are adapting to the transmedia world by having a presence where their audiences are. He said: “Brands need to think of themselves as publishers, and which platforms to amplify and distribute news and information to their audiences.” He revealed that producing client content such as thought leadership articles on Linkedin is one of Edelman Singapore’s fastest-growing businesses at the moment.
He added: “PR Newswire is also beneficiary of this greater desire to go directly to audiences, but still with an earned media-centric mindset.”
4. Measurement and Attribution
With the current budget constraints, Kerr believes that companies will focus more on efficiency and performance, which means that public relations activities need to have a direct impact on business.
He added that these 4 key objectives that should be built into any communications plan: how to increase sales, how to protect and enhance your licence to operate, how do you remain an employer of choice and how do you build advocacy across broader communities. On performance metrics, he shared the A3 (A cubed) measurement model, a behavioral matrix that measures impact through the Attention, Attitude, and Action of audiences that can be applied across marketing and communications disciplines.
Preparing for recovery in the hospitality industry
For Heng, she shared her crisis response and recovery experiences from the perspective of being in the hospitality industry, which is one of the hardest-hit sectors by the COVID-19 crisis.
Here are the communications goals set by serviced apartments platform MetroResidences in March, when the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. The news sparked cancellations and refunds across its properties in light of travel restrictions.
- Provide assurance: Increase response rates to customers. Move away from communications templates and fully understand the situation before engaging with customers on a personal level.
- Build trust: Show that you are fully aligned with new developments and address concerns quickly. It is important to walk the talk on being there for customers.
- Instill faith: Address customers’ concerns when they are ready to travel again and have relevant measures in place.
Some of the measures by MetroResidences included flexible reservation arrangements and virtual viewing of its apartments on its website. In mid-May, it started a Safe Home Programme, which provides free or discounted accommodation to healthcare and frontline workers in Singapore and Japan.
She also suggested that these following points should be considered when planning for crisis recovery in the hospitality sector:
- Prepare for pent-up demand during the recovery period: “We are organizing our operations to prepare what should be done the day when travel restrictions are lifted. There will be new guidelines and rules, so we need to think about what we can do to help travelers ease into this new normal,” she said.
- Introduce more flexible reservation options: Some travelers have encountered traumatic experiences of canceling their reservations that were bought at non-refundable rates and will prefer more flexible booking options in this uncertain climate.
Missed the webinars? You can watch them on-demand here, as part of our COVID-19 communications resources page.
This blog post is written by Kenneth Goh, Senior Marketing Executive at PR Newswire. A former journalist, he relishes keeping track of breaking news as much as telling stories with trends and data. Connect with him via Linkedin.