No one can predict what exactly the world will look like in the aftermath of coronavirus, but what we do know is that some businesses have outshone others during these tough times.
Which businesses will you continue to support when lockdown ends?
I am sure that even a quick think about these last few weeks will have you considering local and national businesses who have made a positive impact on you. Perhaps you have had fantastic customer experience from one of these businesses on a personal level, perhaps their story made it into the national or local media, or perhaps you noticed their brand through organic social media reach shared by someone during the coronavirus outbreak period.
However it gained traction with you, that positive brand experience increases the likely hood of repeat custom and loyalty when lockdown ends.
Adapting and responding quickly in the midst of disaster combined with those who show a social or ethical conscience are attractive to consumers who are seeking out good news stories and beacons of hope and kindness during these dark uncertain times.
Public relations (PR) is creating a positive image of your company and sharing it with the public – building your business’s image, increasing brand awareness. It is communicating and sharing awareness of an organisation through unpaid organic means – telling an audience about what you are doing and what you want to say without paying for an advertising campaign placed within the media.
Around our local area there have been many organisations making an impact and gaining ‘positive PR’ – The Kitchen at 44 King Street (a catering company turned food bank for end of life supermarket food waste), Riverside Taxis (offering discounted travel for key workers), Stirling Gin (making hand sanitiser), Allanwater Café (delivering free ice cream to key workers), Leeanne Kerr Hair Salon (organised an online art competition to keep people busy) and the companies adapting their manufacturing output to make PPE – to name just a few!
All these businesses gained organic reach through social media (with some also in the local print and broadcast media) by sharing their unique story.
On the flip side, there have been some UK businesses who have not come out of this well generating ‘negative PR’.
In March, JD Wetherspoon’s multimillionaire founder Tim Martin laid off 40,000 staff without pay after the chain closed its pubs in response to the coronavirus crisis. Staff were told they would get nothing until the government help scheme kicked in and he suggested they look for work at Tesco, he also refused to pay suppliers.
The backlash from public opinion of the mishandling of the situation will last long into the future with the hashtag #boycottWetherspoons trending on Twitter in March then re-trending end of April when he announced he planned to re-open pubs in June.
Profits before People
Mike Ashley of Sports Direct was also slammed on social media for putting profits before people after telling staff the stores would stay open to customers…minutes after the Prime Minister had announced there was to be a lockdown encouraging everyone to stay home.
There were also reports in the media that prices were raised up to 50% on home gym equipment such as skipping ropes and weights on their online store following the lockdown, giving the impression the company was cashing in on the situation. The hashtag #boycottSportsDirect was soon trending on Twitter.
Active Social Purpose
What COVID19 has shown us is that as society has endured this huge collective trauma, consumers are turning to familiar, trusted, honest brands who display social purpose, awareness and empathy.
Results of a recent survey in the USA showed that 75% of consumers said that how companies act over the coming months will have a direct impact on whether they support them in the future.
The brands that act now, using their power to make a clear, honest and impactful societal difference in the fight against COVID-19, are much more likely to win public support once the pandemic has passed.
Three techniques that will retain and enhance a brands reputation in a crisis are:
The key to gaining the attention of a media outlet is adjusting your angle to ensure it is topical – share your message and help others by sharing your stories, experiences and expertise.
People are currently looking for content on areas such as:
- working from home
- mental health support awareness and support techniques
- health and wellness
- financial advice
- relationship advice
If you work in any of these areas and feel you have a story to tell or message to share this increases your chance of gaining media coverage.
Amongst daily briefings of deaths and news of doom and gloom, the media is also keen for unique stories which shine a light on the best humanity has to offer and the organisations going above and beyond.
Here to Help
If you are a business or organisation going that extra mile and would like to share your efforts but are unsure about how to communicate your message or get your positive story across, please get in touch with PPM on Jen@perfectpennymarketing.co.uk and we can assist you with guidance in shaping your story to make it media ready.
Blog by Katy Whitelaw – PPM PR Guru