Date: 15/04/2020

Navigating COVID-19 communications

Webinar shares tips on how to communicate during the coronavirus pandemic

Ljiljana Boljanović, Managing Director of Olaf & McAteer, and Maja Stojanović, Executive Director of the communications and advertising agency, shared guidelines on how to adjust to times of crisis.

The ban on public gatherings and movement restrictions, affecting company staff and the general population alike, are a challenge for firms’ communications, both internal and external. Speaking about internal communication, Ljiljana suggested placing an emphasis on transparent information about employee safety but not neglecting efforts to cultivate the firm’s image as a good employer – an aspect that gains in importance at times of elevated anxiety such as these. Companies weathering the emergency the best are those that prepared in time and have crisis communication manuals and trained crisis teams in place.

Research reveals that consumers would not disapprove of companies promoting products in the media, since they would see this as evidence of the crisis beginning to abate. In addition, media outlets were offering advertising space at reduced prices in a bid to entice firms to advertise again, she said. A major challenge was how to adjust both advertising ideas and technical features of ads to the changed circumstances.

In terms of corporate social responsibility, the webinar concluded that firms had to communicate the assistance they provided for the relief effort. ‘Many companies have a strict anonymity policy for donations as they don’t want their gestures to be misinterpreted’, Ljiljana said. ‘If a company donates, it should say it’s done so without being afraid this is going to be interpreted as unscrupulous behaviour – such an act should motivate other firms to join in’, she added.

The internet and television have come to the fore as sources of news for the general public. There has been a worldwide increase in audiences for these two communications channels, with TV consumption in the 18 to 29 age group rising by more than 50%; as many as 82% of this cohort are internet users as well. ‘Even though increased use is driven by people’s desire to learn more about what’s happening, there’s been an attendant increase in traffic in other areas as well’, said Maja Stojanović, noting that ‘people want to see content that’s got nothing to do with the pandemic. We expect growth in online advertising, and especially in online sales’.

The webinar also discussed online channels and working with the influencer community during the crisis.

‘Communications won’t change drastically after the crisis, but there certainly won’t be a return to things as they used to be. Some standards have already shifted and many products and services have become available online for the first time. This situation should be seen as an incentive to change and improve both the content of communications and their technical arrangements’, Maja concluded.

The webinar was moderated by Strahinja Mitrovski, AmCham’s Communication Manager.

Watch a full video of the webinar here!