After living with COVID-19 for over a year, Southeast Asian countries continue to deal with resurges in cases and periodical lockdowns, even as recovery plans are underway. These continual scenarios have led to new behaviours and altered mindsets.
As consumers adapt to a new way of life, brands have similarly learned to shift gears and adapt to a disrupted market. But as countries hop on the road to recovery, does this signal a return to normal?
Not quite. There is no “going back to how things were” – the new normal is here and will likely remain that way for a while. That said, brands today have a unique opportunity to revisit their purpose and meaning to consumers for the long term.
Much like the vaccine, your brand could use a dose of public relations to strengthen its immunity in the new normal.
Here’s how a solid PR strategy can help you remain relevant by connecting with your community, whose perspectives have changed after the lockdown.
They can boost your “line of defence”
Brands owe it to consumers to provide quality products and services, and a genuine and empathetic customer experience. Hence, the ability to consistently provide good service to the public – and solidifying your business reputation – serves as your brand’s first line of defence, protecting your business when threats are close by. Even when we manage to move past COVID-19, there’s no telling when a crisis will strike next: there’s no other time than now to engage your consumers and strengthen your relationships. Focus on managing and ensuring consistent customer experiences each time they interact with your business. While ensuring good products is a given, a proactive PR strategy is essential in creating genuine connections and fostering a community. In doing so, you create a loyal customer base that can readily act as your brand spokespersons, no matter the occasion.
They can help strengthen brand trust that “kills viruses”
A PR strategy can help strengthen brand trust in the long term and further fortify your brand’s immunity. Social listening tools, monitoring conversations around your brand, and reaching out to targeted audiences can help shape richer and more precise narratives that resonate with your market. When your stories are authentic, relevant and genuinely provide value for people, it can help your target audience view you not only as a product or service provider but a brand that understands them and one they can trust. People understand your brand values and what you stand for.
Being aware of public sentiment can also help you reimagine your core offerings and amplify the right services depending on your market needs. Through PR, you can get to know what consumers value now and study how your brand can provide those needs.
Producing immunity for the future
The COVID-19 vaccine was created to introduce immunity against the novel disease. Similarly, your brand needs to adapt acquired immunity for the future ahead. Strengthening consumer experience and product offerings can provide a layer of protection – but to truly safeguard your brand, you need to prepare for any emerging risks. Consistent and proactive PR planning ensures that you’re not just reacting to current events; you’re preventing future brand missteps. These include possible tone-deaf messaging, especially during sensitive times, as well as conducting due diligence on influencers, thought leaders, and media partners to ensure brand safety. The crisis will change customers’ behaviours and needs, and it’s important for brands to look out for changes in consumer desires, shifts in behaviours and preferences, and new missteps or brand risks that may not have been present before.
The new normal offers brands an opportune moment to refresh their brand image – planning their communication strategy now and the future ahead. Beyond selling, your consumers must understand that you recognise the realities that people face. Connect with your communities on causes that matter to them, and uplift their spirits or stand in solidarity with them.
In times of adversity, people will look back on their memory of a community coming together to withstand this period. A well-planned PR strategy ensures that brands become part of that conversation. As we venture into the new normal, the right PR team can help you navigate this uncharted territory through strategic partnerships, social listening, and creating authentic connections with the community.
Blue Totem Communications’ team of specialists proudly combines experience and know-how to help you plan ahead and create rich and lasting relationships with your consumers. Our agency has a wide network of high-value partners across Singapore, Malaysia and the SEA region, helping brands foster trust and authenticity with their audiences. Get in touch with us at bluetotem.co/contact-us today.