The Power of influence getting your message right in uncertain times

We can’t be seen to be selling or promoting ourselves I hear you say, but how do we keep engaged with our audience. Spending among many brands has been curtailed or in some cases halted entirely. Events have been postponed and increasingly cancelled for 2020. Many brands are using this time to build audiences and recognition, some are going the extra mile particularly in relation to the NHS. For example Leon restaurants faced with huge revenue loss in sales pivoted to provide meals for NHS workers but also linked the campaign with a celebrity in the form of Matt Lucas. The media has taken to task companies that are seen to be unsupportive to its staff like Sports Direct.

With membership bodies, many members will be facing difficult times and its important to be understanding of their predicament. The British Promotional Merchandise Association have been conducting weekly update webinars for members and prospects with over 200 joining and, given they have 550 members, this is a sizeable audience. They also took the move to delay the annual renewal from June to the 1st September. The communication was supportive and personable, and despite the industry suffering hugely, the level of influence the association will have had would have been considerable.

The plight of the self employed over the Coronavirus has been taken up through extensive lobbying by IPSE (The Association of Independent Professional Self Employed) as many business were facing financial hardship or ruin unless government intervened. The organisation currently has 74,000 members. They have been advising the Chancellor on steps to take to support the millions of self employed and been updating their policy as things developed. They have been running weekly webinars at a set time with as many as 500 in attendance, and set up a specific email address for Coronavirus. The association has noticed a spike in social media presence with over 1000 mentions in the last month generating an online reach of over 1bn says head of PR Tristan Grove.

Social media can be an asset to build brand awareness.

Given the scale of the governments challenge to get us all to STAY AT HOME, SUPPORT THE NHS, SAVE LIVES , this message has been repeated consistently and proves the value of simple messaging consistently delivered.

This was put on the Microsoft twitter page. A joint industry statement on COVID-19 from Microsoft, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Reddit, Twitter and YouTube. This suggests collaborative thinking to combat a global issue:

Ryanair made a statement of waiving their fees to change flights. The airline industry is suffering hugely from this and it will take some time to re-stablish regular flights, this statement suggests an understanding of passenger’s predicament for those that have got bookings planned:

 

Nickelodeon launched a site to keep kids busy at home during the coronavirus outbreak. This created online mentions of over 4020 , an increase of 1902%

So some of my final steps you should adopt are:

  1. Be absolutely transparent, even if the news is bad, people can plan for this, what they can’t manage is silence or vagueness
  2. Keep your over-arching message simple, the less words the better, use as a strapline everywhere
  3. Be authentic, get the CEOs talking directly on social
  4. Engage with your employees before members and customers – they are the mouthpiece and consistently of message is very important
  5. Convey supportive language in communications without it seemingly disingenuous
  6. Keep a set time to each week to update members and customers
  7. Use the art of story telling to bring out how members are coping in the current crisis
  8. Create forums around the cause , rather than it just been an open forum for all comms
  9. Share member news stories that are out of the ordinary eg going the extra mile

Gordon Glenister runs his own consultancy on membership and is also the global head of influencer marketing at the Branded Content Marketing Association. He also runs a podcast on influence.

For more information – www.gordonglenister.com