Have we really learnt the lessons of the coronacrisis, and are we ready to make use of its opportunities?
10 August 2020
By: Berta Čaikauskaitė
The first wave of COVID-19 has ripped across the globe and is gearing up for a second blow as the news flow signals that we have returned to the same point we were at in February. While uncertainty lingers, currently we have real experience and successful examples as to how we can make use of unexpectedly emerging opportunities in communication. Nevertheless, it does not at all mean that all the lessons have been learnt, but the scenario may be more favourable this time round.
The coronacrisis has not vanished
According to data from news media research and analysis company Mediaskopas, the news flow regarding COVID-19 is at interest levels akin to the end of February when the threat of the virus was clearly felt, but fears had yet to ripen. At that time, just as now, most only naively guessed at when this virus would reach Lithuania.
While currently, the lockdown restrictions have loosened and the emotional situation has seemingly improved in the country, Lithuanian media continues to record around 1,000 articles, reports and news shows every day, which discuss the coronavirus. These statistics are at least four times lower than in March when we faced the great deluge of the virus, but it confirms that the coronacrisis has not disappeared.
That said, the core topics of research, testing, the country’s economic situation or information pertaining to medics is currently overshadowed by the topics of tourism and flights being developed behind the backdrop of the coronavirus. According to Mediaskopas data, these news items are ranked quite high up – in June and July, they comprised around 25 per cent of all published articles in the coronavirus context.
Nevertheless, the weight of uncertainty remains very similar to at the beginning of the lockdown, and there is little talk about preparations for what is clearly inevitable.
A look at the business sector: how will companies make good use of the lockdown?
In hindsight, it is clear that the pandemic has impacted the operation of nearly every sector and has strongly affected news flows in the news media – headlines about the rampaging virus have made more acute the already high levels of public concern, and have overshadowed the previously dominant themes surrounding various crises and scandals.
On the other hand, it is not difficult to notice which companies were unprepared for the challenges that befell them and those on the contrary, which adapted more flexibly and made business decisions that yielded them highly visible positions making use of opening opportunities and creating opportunities for themselves.
An excellent example is the telecommunications operator Tele2, which, unlike many others, decided to focus its attention on and increase investment into content marketing. This helped the company earn perhaps the best brand visibility on the news media and avoid the interference of the intermediary editor.
The key to success for a number of companies was also adapted to the changed market, or newly created services. This was proven by a slew of e-retail companies thriving, having thus improved their visibility.
A significant number of companies sought to and were able to take up the positions of responsible business and employer, strengthening their positive image in the news media. There was active communication of retained job positions and staff safety, and extra benefits granted to staff during the pandemic. Leaders also voiced their opinions or openly spoke about their companies’ painful losses. In the context of responsible employers, the most visibility landed on the retail chain Maxima, the SEB Group’s service centre SEB Global Services, the pet food producer Mars Lietuva, the beverage industry company Švyturys-Utenos Alus, and others.
The media was filled with the names of various companies, associations and individuals who contributed to various initiatives and state rescue plans whereby30 initiatives gained visibility, among them most notable being the internet television Laisvės TV obtaining over 900 thousand euros in support for Lithuanian medics.
The communication examples from successful companies during this time demonstrate that businesses must be able to communicate loudly and clearly, and be able to adapt and make use of the public domain even during tense conditions. Above all, they must absorb the lessons learnt during the first wave of COVID-19 and prepare for the autumn and winter early, given how it will likely demand even more flexibility and unorthodox solutions.