Crisis is the mother of resilience. One of the main things I have learned through this pandemic is that we are far more resilient than we think. It is incredible how people are keeping their personal lives and their work moving forwards by using innovative ways to stay socially connected. I believe that humanity will come out of this more agile and stronger.
Caring is a part of our DNA. I saw many friends and stakeholders coming together to support communities. From creating masks and face shields to donating and delivering food to those in need. We, at StP Communications we have launched an appeal and helped alleviate the shortage of equipment in residential homes in Brussels struggling to contain an increasing number of Covid-19 cases.
However, the current situation also entails a risk of widening social and economic differences in the world. Demand shifts and the capacity of the private sector to rebound will asymmetrically affect different countries. Many sectors are expected to suffer, notably through reduced turnover and employment.
Here is what we have learned so far:
The role of communications in sustainability and rebuilding brands during and after the crisis is paramount
What organisations are doing in times of crisis defines their brands and their image for many years to come. All that was considered as normal before the corona crisis - the "previous normal" of January 2020 - is gone. Forever. Investing now in building an innovative & sustainable strategy to come out of recession is of prime importance. Embrace the new normal and drive innovation into every aspect of business to exit recession on a growth trajectory.
PR/COMMS agencies will act even more as trusted constituents of the corporate communications team, and are absolutely needed during these times.
Digital will set you free
Never in the past has digital connectivity been so critical for a health crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has made us realise how heavily we depend on digital connectivity. The public is far more engaged and has more excellent and higher expectations.
This is an opportunity for public and private organisations to reinforce public trust and reputation. They can learn how to be better prepared to manage rising complications of a global crisis, respond to it much faster and adjust their action and message so that it aligns with public good.
The coronavirus will either kill or cure the EU
It is early to assess the political repercussions of the corona pandemic in Europe, but decisions taken since February will have a profound impact. EU leaders have failed in communicating a shared vision, taking a real political commitment to reassure European citizens that the EU is there for them. Different European countries have taken a national approach, focusing less on solidarity and coordination If no solution is found fast to finance the reconstruction plan of Europe the coronavirus crisis will further damage the trust of citizens in the European Union and its governance.
Combating myths and disinformation
Why does misinformation flourish? Does all this fake news mean that people are extremely trustful, their anxiety making them receptive to the most flagrant rubbish? Many share fake news for fun, but the fake news about potential corona cures was most worrying during the pasts months.
The 2020 coronavirus has given rise to a flood of conspiracy theories, disinformation and propaganda, eroding public trust and undermining health officials. Nevertheless, fake news can also lead to a significant crisis, panic and hysteria. We saw many myths that the virus is a foreign biological weapon, the virus has been created in NATO laboratories, or it is a partisan invention or part of a plot to re-engineer the population. The EEAS worked overtime to protect us from the Klingon invasion.
Show empathy and be authentic
I strongly believe that the coronavirus is a good opportunity for brands to show attitude and reach out to the people, not clients or consumers. Putting people above budgets and profits is very important. There is no doubt that companies are facing a large decline in revenues, but pushing sales at this time would be ineffective and even opportunistic. So, companies should play the long term game and invest in trust and reputation. It is time to learn how to create community values and principle focus points.
Government communication can better
Concerning government communication, we saw too much technical information and less motivation and empathy. In the fight against the outbreak, the population must respect government measures. A government cannot implement these measures through restrictions and law enforcement only. Motivating the citizens is paramount. Good and clear communication is essential for doing this. That's exactly where things went wrong in recent weeks in countries like Belgium or the UK, for example. On the other hand, Greece and New Zealand did it well.
Picture Matt Lamers in Unsplash