Sarah Munnik, MD and Senior Partner

It's Time To Get Moving

I’ve always been a goal-focused person. So as usual on the 31st December 2019 I wrote down some of my goals for the year ahead – and 2020 was going to be a big year.

I wasn’t wrong, but I didn’t think it would be a big year because the world would be paused due to a global pandemic. But it was. And while we can’t change what has happened, we can change how we respond to it – and there is no time like the present for brands to reset and get moving.

But before you race out of the starting the gate there are few things to consider differently. How you view your audience and how you need to reach them has changed significantly. The playing field has also shifted and the brands that adapt to the changes quickly can thrive.

Get your head out of the sand

So, let’s start at the beginning – get your head out of the sand. Of course, the natural reaction when COVID first hit was to pause and observe. Sensible. And understandable particularly when many brands are facing uncertainty in a global market.  

But now that we are back to some semblance of normal life, it’s time to look around. Brands that take too long to start moving again risk missing out on key opportunities to cement their reputation and carve out new customers.

There is a real opportunity for brands to have a voice and share opinion. These don’t all need to be COVID related, in fact now is thetime to start talking about life beyond COVID to challenge the status quo.

New normal is here to stay

We’ve been talking about a new normal for a few weeks – it’s here to stay. Making small tweaks because you think they will be temporary is short-sighted. Accept and acknowledge that the behaviour of your customers and stakeholders has changed for the long term. And so has the way you need to communicate with them.

It’s time to review your communications strategy. Do the strategies you had in place pre-COVID still feel relevant now? What needs to change? Where should you have a voice?

One thing is certain the call for authenticity and buying local will continue to grow in the months ahead and you need to figure out how your brand fits into that conversation. If it doesn’t, how will you counteract it?

The value of localised content and messaging has increased tenfold. Global brands need to support a much higher level of localisation of content to reflect that New Zealand is in a different stage of the COVID cycle to most other countries. Our culture and social norms are different to other countries, so it only makes sense our content and messaging is different too.

Use the full toolkit mindfully

Our media landscape has taken a hard knock and we’ve seen some great titles put to pasture. But this isn’t the end of good editorial, in fact it presents good opportunity. News will always play a key role in our society. Due to the small media pool, there are clear opportunities for well written, strong opinion pieces and commentary. Keeping your media relations strong and covered is vital. But it’s also time to implement supplementary channels such as direct stakeholder communications, corporate, social outreach and consumer-focused content.

There’s also never been a greater time for creativity. Using the right channels has always been central to a communications strategy. But now’s time to evaluate which channels most effective reach your audience– and they may not be the same channels thatyou used in the past.  

Sometimes the simplest of ideas is the most effective. Not everything needs a whiz-bang approach – and this approach may no longer berelevant. Most importantly, companies need to invest in ideas that overcome apathy and cut through the chaos – that’s how you drive value for your brands in the new world order.

At this point in time, large events aren’t an option for launches, events or music concerts. So it’s time to be creative. We’ve already seen some innovative ideas emerge such as virtual launches and incredible pieces of content being produced in different places and edited together as away to overcome this. Brands that find unique ways to showcase their products will lead the way.  

It’s time to unlearn what we know. It’s time to forget about the way we’ve always done things. Most importantly it’s time to re-learn andchallenge our own way of thinking. This is when we will really see Kiwi ingenuity come to the fore.

In short, be willing to try something new, it may just getyou the result you were looking for.

Get started with focus

With a revised strategy you can now get started and put your plans into action.  Every dollar wil lneed to work even harder than it has before. Being clear about your objectives will help you remain focussed.

And don’t get sucked into activity that doesn’t support your objectives. That’s a waste of everyone’s time and money. But do get started. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get going again and you may lose some precious customer support along the way.

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