The challenge of building confidence and belief during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has created one of the biggest challenges for organizations everywhere – sustaining confidence and belief in real facts. Panic triggered by misinformation became our reality. The pandemic created such a negative environment, that people are scared to believe in anything new or unfamiliar.

Almost all businesses have been affected, along with their customers. Although the conditions are tough, this also creates the perfect situation for PR to demonstrate its value. By using best practices for crisis and risk communication, PR can serve as a beacon of clarity in times of darkness.  In addition, with an effective and forward-looking PR strategy, a company can build confidence amongst its audiences during the crisis. As the market slowly heads towards normalcy, this confidence (and the PR strategy to increase it) will provide organizations solid foundations for growth.

Internal communication played a critical role

In challenging times like these it’s vital to be 100% human. A recent survey revealed that 78% of respondents felt businesses had a responsibility to ensure their employees are not only protected from the COVID-19 virus in the workplace but also that it does not spread the virus into the community. In this sense, getting internal communication right so people change their behavior, is literally a life and death scenario.

OptimoreGroup, has created solid roadmaps for  clients to make sure they address and prioritize their employees’ needs. We make sure employees are informed and engaged so that they can focus on their goals.  Keeping people connected became our priority and it helped to build a cohesive team, as well as positive work environment.

As communication professionals, we also see this as an opportunity to upgrade and upskill employees while maintaining mental and physical wellbeing in an organization. According to the Worldcom Confidence Index (WCI), global leaders now see upskilling and reskilling employees as the most important topic as a result of the pandemic. Their engagement with this topic increased by 160% between April and December 2020.

Transparency is the key

Communicating with transparency is another key aspect of PR that became crucial during the pandemic.  Employees, stakeholders, customers, partners had to be kept well informed to remain aligned. Organizations with clear crisis communication manuals in hand, and emergency teams ready for the challenge, were prepared to communicate effectively despite the crisis being unprecedented. Reaching out to stakeholders and explaining that the necessary steps were being taken to ensure their business is not impacted, played an important role in building confidence.

PR practitioners played a critical role in the process while setting the tone, choosing the right channels to convey the messaging.  For example, email marketing for corporate communication became an even more essential tool as a result of the pandemic, with email open rates increasing significantly over the last year.

Shifts in channel strategy gained momentum

During the curfews, screen time and social media engagement increased significantly. With more and more people working remotely, it encouraged brands to re-evaluate their social media strategies and adapt to their audience’s new behavior patterns. Several brands who had chosen traditional methods to engage with their clientele prior to COVID-19 changed their strategy and complied with the zeitgeist.

Optimore Group has helped clients to identify and prioritize their communication channels during the pandemic. We have:

  • Provided data reports to illustrate the shift in channels
  • Helped them set up new channels where necessary
  • Adapted the content strategy to satisfy the shift in the market and audience needs.

COVID-19 has changed the way we all do business. It has also demonstrated that PR practitioners play a critical role in providing people the information they need at the time they need it.  Perhaps more importantly, is has shown that business leaders need to invest in communications that touch the hearts and minds of people to build confidence in today and belief in tomorrow.