By Stijn Zwinkels
The most frequently asked question we are asked at the moment is: “What are the do’s and don’ts with regards to our media expressions?” Obviously, companies do not want to create the impression they are taking advantage of the current situation. Hitting the right note in this time of crisis is crucial.
In the last couple of days, the lives of people all over the world have been turned upside down. Nothing is the same. For us at Glasnost, the health of our colleagues and their families is our priority. But, in moments like these, we also pay extra attention to our clients. Glasnost is built on the belief that transparency and communication have the power to unite people. And we want to do that together.
During times of hardship, people tend to become more creative. A well-known example is William Shakespeare, who wrote the classics King Lear and Macbeth while in quarantine. Especially now, society and organizations are challenged to be at their most creative. The current pandemic and the resulting measures are forcing all of us, individuals and organizations, to be resourceful.
The power of connecting
Official news sources have an important task: to supply the public with accurate information. Current news bulletins focus mainly on the impact the pandemic has on our society. In addition to ‘hard news’, increasing attention is paid to ‘positive news’. This creates opportunities for the business community. Think of initiatives such as Help de Horeca, Squla (who now offer children free tutoring services during school hours) or KPN and Ziggo, who offer Film1 for free. People in the Netherlands are helping each other with smart solutions.
We always measure concepts and solutions by the editorial benchmark and use our 3-M model to check whether content is newsworthy or not. At the moment, the global benchmark is significantly higher than usual. So before we start pitching, we keep asking ourselves the following questions: is the message relevant and does the content help the reader? Does it respond to the needs or interests of the public?
The benefit to the public has to be crystal clear. Social initiatives are not automatically newsworthy. The old adage ‘acts, not ads’ applies to everyone. This period is about helping each other. Media attention should not be your main goal or aim; it should be a result of your efforts.
What does that look like?
IKEA, for example, adopts a very sympathetic approach to the issue of overcrowded living environments that people find themselves in due to social isolation. IKEA responds to this phenomenon by showing how a place to work, relax and be together under one roof can be created using smart IKEA solutions.
Another example comes from the UK, where several distilleries and gin producers respond to non-beverage related shortages caused by the COVID-19 crisis. They are now producing something people need more than a cocktail: denatured alcohol. Alternative beer brewery BrewDog even created its own hand sanitizer. By naming it Punk Sanitizer, the company gave the new product a subtle brand-wink.
Unfortunately, there are companies who completely miss the mark. Such as US-based Grubhub, who offered $100 million in aid to restaurants. What seemed to be a noble gesture, turned out to be a way for the platform to gain long-term contracts. Instead of being praised, the company now faces public criticism by, among others, Forbes.
In short: the tone, the initiative and the way you communicate your efforts are of critical importance.
Here to help
In the coming weeks we will appear in your inbox with relevant information and tips on marketing communication and those do’s and don’ts in these difficult times. It goes without saying that we are ready to help and answer any communication questions you may have.