13th March 2020

Brand SOS: how organisations can adapt to the coronavirus

The coronavirus is coming at us from all sides to dominate the news and infiltrate everything we do and believe in.

This is a pandemic. It’s unprecedented, unpredictable, and without a timeline. Ireland, and over a hundred other countries around the world, are in crisis mode. Education institutions are closing their doors, airlines are cancelling flights, and social gatherings are being avoided at all costs.

That’s everything you already know. Now here’s something new.

In the face of such a great challenge, there is also great opportunity. For business leaders across Ireland, many of whom are facing real existential crises, it’s time to stop and rethink what’s next.

In the absence of face-to-face gatherings and human contact, how can we ensure our businesses continue to grow, connect with key audiences and markets, and deliver business objectives?

Amid the hysteria, hearsay, and hurry, leaders who keep a cool head and take a positive approach in the face of adversity build memorable positive sentiment internally among staff. But crucially, being proactive is the only way to remain in contact with key external audiences and to deliver on business objectives.

Online, the future is bright

An analysis of social media usage shows that today, 62% of all people in Ireland are on Facebook, 41% are on Instagram, and 40% are on Twitter.

The trend is an upwards one. A recent forecast of social network user numbers in Ireland for 2022 shows the number of monthly active social network users reaching 4.89 million; this would be an increase of over 1,550,000 new users from 3.34 million users in 2016.

Irish people thrive on connectivity. It’s in our culture and woven into our very DNA. We come to life through positivity and celebration. In a time of turmoil and uncertainty, facilitating these connections and fostering upbeat sentiment has never been more important.

Today, RTÉ launched the #RTEVirtualParade Twitter campaign encouraging people across the world to film their St Patrick’s Day talent, costumes, and creativity, and share their content across social media.

It’s a campaign of unity and positivity, and it’s already being greeted with widespread joy across the nation.

Thanks to RTÉ’s Virtual Parade, Paddy’s Day is still on…online at least.

Virtual gatherings

For brands, the decision to cancel events and gatherings is a difficult one, but thinking outside the box about how we connect with our audiences delivers results that last.

Thousands of Irish people are now working and learning at home. Bringing events online through webinars, creating virtual experiences, and educating audiences through digital and social media platforms present endless opportunities.

Microsoft’s Build developer conference is the latest tech event to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The software giant was planning on holding its annual developer conference in Seattle from 19 May, but it has now decided to make it a “digital event”.

This proactive approach by Microsoft will keep its ecosystem of developers bound together in a new virtual format, where they will still be able to learn, connect, and code together.

In a time of great change, uncertainty, and isolation, acting quickly to connect, concentrate, and communicate with key audiences strengthens and future-proofs businesses.

This time, it’s not survival of the fittest, it’s survival of the proactive, and the brands and organisations that emphasise the positives will thrive.

About the author

Heather-Ann is a Senior Client Manager on the brand team at 360. She develops and executes strategic communication plans to build brand profile and reputation through creative flair.

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