The show goes on, but how?

Well. That escalated quickly didn’t it?

One minute we’re watching news reports about a health crisis that’s thousands of miles away; the next we’re all working from home long term, rationing toilet paper, and developing eczema (cause: obsessive handwashing and/or stress).

In such a difficult time, marketing is understandably far from the forefront of most peoples’ minds. But for us at OG, it’s our job, our livelihood and our passion. And I’ve been astounded and delighted by the creativity I’ve seen among Octopedes, our friends and our clients, as we all find different ways to keep on communicating while our world goes through some pretty unprecedented challenges.

Together, we’ve shown that we can and should carry on working, thinking and creating. So, I thought it worth celebrating a few inspirational ideas I’ve seen from our 40 or so clients over the past week:

Keep calm and… you know the rest

It’d be easy for businesses to see the next few weeks as cause to hunker down behind video conferences and scale back. So it’s heartening to see some proactively use their skills as communicators to help others in their industry.

For example, one of the companies we work with has debuted a set of templates and guidance documents for their users, enabling them to share and collect information about COVID-19 from staff.

Now they can keep everyone in the loop, with a complete set of tools to plan and track both internal and external responses, as well as distribute official company lines on what to do. And they’ve already received fantastic user feedback.

Taking the external internal

Coronavirus is a constantly moving story, with new guidance being issued to businesses all the time. And with tech companies often employing thousands of people across regions, there’s never been a greater need for clear comms between businesses and their staff.

Everyone talks the talk when it comes to staff care, but the time has come to walk the walk. For some, this means thinking about how their PR budget can be used for internal communications.

Internal is obviously a distinct skill that’s perhaps not as celebrated as the big headline stories and campaigns we often focus on (as some of our Octopedes with experience in this area will testify). But it’s a vital part of what we as marketers do, and its time has truly come.

Regardless of how the economy fares in the aftermath of the pandemic, it’s the businesses that provide transparent communication and ensure the welfare of their employees that will thrive.

A silver lining?

Despite the widescale disruption we’re all experiencing, it’s important to remember to look at the glass half-full, as many of our clients do.

This is a strange time, but it has brought with it an opportunity to introspect and crack on with projects that may have had a longer timeline due to competing priorities. I’ve seen marketers grasp the nettle and focus on business development or testing new ideas.

Some other interesting things we’ve seen these past few days:

  • H2 web projects come forward into H1 as marketers re-organise their priorities and take advantage of a window of focus for their teams
  • The exploration of innovative video content formats to take the place of physical events, with some clients who seem very much up for more ambitious and eye-catching ideas
  • Requests for workshops and training on refining social selling or wider sales strategy in light of the public mood or sectoral nuances
  • A push to run remote brand and messaging workshops to replace post-it note and flipchart meetings – even if we can’t be in the same room, it’s clear that we still all want to connect
  • A rush to review existing paid strategies in line with the changing behaviour of buyer groups

Best foot forward, spit spot

A wise man once said “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” – and it’s true.

The courage of individuals stepping up to the plate shows us how tough times bring out our best; from local civilians forming committees to those checking-in on the vulnerable elderly.

I hope you and yours are healthy and staying strong during this time. I’ll update this blog every so often with new ideas. And if you want to chat about what the next few weeks (months? years?) means for marketing, I’m always up for a Zoom meeting – not least because I’ve worked out how to change my virtual background…