In this webinar, the team discusses:
- The importance of messaging and tone of voice – run by our content and strategy director, Chris Bowman
- Cutting through the noise with considered creativity – run by our creative director, Daniel George
- Integrated campaigns – run by our head of integration, Lucinda Armitage-Price
- Managing sensitive issues and crises – run by our MD of North America, Alexa West
- Plus commentary and advice from Aspectus’s Global CEO, Alastair Turner and Chairman, Bill Penn
Key questions and answers from the session
For brands adjusting their tone of voice at the moment, should they be rolling this out across all their marketing channels or a select few for the short term?
Chris: The key here is to respect the context of the channels that you’re communicating on. If the tone of the channel is quite light and cheerful, and you’re communicating something about COVID-19, keep the message short and direct your audience to another platform, such as your website where they can read more.
What’s a good argument to make to stakeholders that are pushing back on creative ideas right now?
Dan: Securing buy-in for creative ideas is usually harder than coming up with the idea itself. People do have a right to be cautious, but it is paramount that when you do have an idea, you execute it and get it right. That’s why we talk so much about considered creativity. It isn’t marketing for the sake of it. Considered creativity is about solving tangible problems for your audience, or, indeed, your own business. By having that approach at the heart of your creative ideas, I think you can eliminate much of the risk.
Beyond that, you also need to think about the risk of not communicating and not executing your creative ideas during this time. When lockdown has eased and the economy starts to turn a corner, your business needs to be in the best shape possible with a healthy pipeline of leads to convert. Otherwise what you will face is potentially a second hit. As the competition gathers pace you will be left behind if you haven’t put in the groundwork. Clever communicators have an opportunity here to come out of this on the front foot
Would love to know your opinion on the current Virgin/Richard Branson situation and do you think they are going to be able to recover from this?
Chris: There are a couple of things that this situation throws into light:
- It shows the risk of building a brand that is very concentrated on one particular person, because as much as that is a focal point in the good times, that person is also a focal point in the bad times and people will go back in time and pull you up for things you’ve said in the past.
- On the positive side for Virgin, what they’ve built is quite a cool brand, in a lot of ways, with an edgy tone of voice that’s always been unafraid to be cheeky, honest, and at times direct with the consumer. So, if they do take steps to fix the situation, behind the scenes, which should be the starting point, then they are a well-positioned brand to make a direct apology to their audience.
Dan: Virgin’s strength is in the investment its made in its brand over the years and that does reinforce the need to continue communicating. Every time you communicate, you get your message across and buy goodwill, so that when you do face a difficult issue, and you lose some of that goodwill, it doesn’t completely run out.
Virgin are in a difficult position right now, but their investment in the wider brand, and Richard Branson’s personal brand, allows for a certain level of leeway for when they do make mistakes.
If my marketing budget has been cut, what’s the most effective tactic to guarantee leads?
Lucinda: Think about how you can recycle the content that you already have. You don’t necessarily need to start from scratch. Think about what you currently have and how you can adapt it to make it work within this new environment.
When it comes to marketing planning in our ‘new normal’ world, is the annual marketing plan a thing of the past and how far in advance should businesses be planning budgets and activity?
Lucinda: I personally don’t think the annual marketing plan has ever really worked for us and our clients. We have always tended to work on a quarterly plan because so much can change throughout the course of a year and it’s important to stay agile and move with business performance and requirements.
Dan: Any strategy worth its salt should be flexible and adaptable because when you start executing it should have an impact on the landscape around you, meaning the things you were aiming for will change. That might be that you realise what you were aiming to achieve isn’t possible or you succeed, but that will have an impact on what you do next.
While I think its important to have a yearly plan as a general sense of direction an aspiration, you should be looking at them regularly and, in theory, you should never reach the end of the plan having executed everything you wanted to, because you should be adapting to your own needs and the competitive landscape around you that continually evolves.
How can you differentiate promoting things like webinars when a lot of people are doing them now?
Lucinda: You have to think about the topic. Is it something that your audience need to hear right now and will help them? If it is, then it almost speaks for itself. Beyond that, I would adopt a multi-channel approach to promoting your webinar, ensure you have a consistent message across all your channels. If you can, I’d recommend putting some paid support behind your social media posts or display ads to ensure you are getting it in front of the right people.
Sofie: I think that the topic is very important. Right now, a lot of people are looking for answers on how to deal with this current situation, which is why we’ve seen so much interest in this webinar. There are a lot of tools that you can use to find out what people are searching for to ensure you tailor your webinar topic to the demands of your audience.
Chris: A webinar is a broadcast medium, a few people, or one person, talking to many and that’s resource effective. But if your competitors are doing a lot of webinars, it could be worth shifting the format slightly and hosting something that is less like a lecture and more like a seminar with a select number of attendees.
Alastair: I agree, it opens up new channels. You could pull together a few people to host a roundtable discussion. You can also use other channels that are becoming more and more popular, like HouseParty, to create something different that has more energy.
What is a best practice template for measurement and what metrics should I be measuring at this time?
Lucinda: I would ensure that you have your goals set up and the metrics that you want to measure should be based on those goals. Review your Google Analytics set up and ensure you’re tracking everything that you need. Data is key right now, as it always is, and you shouldn’t underestimate it.
The best framework, for us, is Google Data Studio. It’s incredibly self-explanatory and is a transparent way of reporting that almost anyone can understand.
What job roles should people have within a crisis communications team?
Alexa: It should be largely from the marketing and communications side, however, it’s also important to bring in business leaders, where appropriate, to ensure that all lines of your business are represented. For instance, it may be someone from marketing that pulls together the message, but then a client facing team member who delivers that message to the client directly. Having a good mix of stakeholders and representatives from different areas of your company to ensure that you’re understanding and communicating the needs of the entire business.