As COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe with still no end in sight, brands and agencies are fighting another battle of existence – to survive and thrive in the current pandemic environment. This is not the first time in history that fashion and beauty brands have looked in the mirror and sulked – these industries are seen as insignificant at a time like this!
In the current situation, brands are ensuring to deliver more sensitive and relevant content. Agencies are also trying to maintain a balance in their communication strategies in pushing the brand offerings and securing placements for their clients. The situation is tricky and it’s a tough time for brands to keep the ball rolling and save themselves from an economic downturn.
Clearly, it’s time for agencies to re-examine their communication strategies and come up with relevant solutions for their brands. It is important that their approach is sensitive and mindful; whilst still keeping their consumers engaged.
This is an unprecedented crisis by far and stressful for everyone. We might not get it right, but we must remember to be sensitive in our approach. Sometimes, all your client needs is a friendly ear. Your inbox might be flooded with queries from brands asking you about your coverage strategy and pitches to media.
It’s time to pause and be astute. We need to approach media and influencers keeping in mind the strange reality we are living in.
This is business unusual. Have a better understanding with your media friends about the content they are working on, their concerns and sensitivities, and then work on a go-forward strategy for all clients.
This is a time to understand that humanity comes before commercial interests. Ensure you are not being too frivolous in your communication with the media.
It’s a great time to think about the ‘real connection’ you have with your target audience. For the first time ever, this crisis has given the brands an opportunity to build a genuine connection with their consumers. Remember, we are all in this together. Advise your clients to use their social media platforms to spread positivity and support as much as possible.
Sharing tips, motivational messages, meditations, stay at home activities, and so on will help during this challenging time. It will maintain a top brand recall in the long run too. For example, ask your beauty client to go live with skincare tips, dietary suggestions, DIY facial masks and you will surely see the positive feedback from your followers.
It’s important to be aware of your pitching and messaging or communication strategy. Ensure your pitch does not feel inappropriate in these times. As most of the brands are forced to cancel their events in this situation, it’s time for agencies to promote their new spring collection or latest product range with a sensitive and appropriate messaging.
Focus more on the design details or inspiration behind the launch of the new range rather than promoting it as the ‘ideal footwear during travel’ or ‘get the right wedding makeup look’.
Allow editors and influencers to place their personal orders through the brand’s e-commerce portals. Make their work-from-home more comfortable and also subtly promote the new range of products. This will help the brand in building better relations with the media. It can also help in securing some coverage in these tough times.
One of the most important aspects of media relations has been meeting the editors over coffee or inviting them to events or your workplace to enhance relations. Since these in-person meetings are impossible at this point in time, it’s probably a good idea to think about virtual meetings.
Set up a day and time to have a chat with the editors on phone and arrange to send a virtual breakfast ‘gift card’ so they can order and also support the local small businesses if possible. Create a special discount code for them on your client’s e-commerce portal so they can pick and choose their favorite piece from the latest collection.
No matter how hard you try to stay on top of the game and make things work, there will always be hurdles and disappointments when it comes to client retention. The next several months are tough for everyone. So, we need to be prepared to make some adjustments until the dust settles. Be willing to work on lower retainers and do not be disheartened about losing some business.
We are all going through these tough times. Be transparent with your clients about their expectations in coverage, especially the fashion and beauty brands for the next several months. Support clients to map out a strategy for the year and a post-recovery plan for the future. The loyal clients will stick with you.
There is going to be an inevitable slowdown in business, for us and our clients. As their communication partners, we need to use this time wisely. We need to support them through this time. While we are all feeling a sense of anxiety about the uncertainty we are currently facing, it’s a bigger loss to only focus on the current situation. Do not think that this is the end of our business.
Take this as an opportunity to get innovative and creative in your communication strategy or approach. Support the concerns and needs of your clients. Brands and PR agencies who are built on strong values will outlive this virus.