By Bianca Boyd, interim general manager, Edelman Calgary
I think we can all agree that what we are going through together and many of its effects – shifts in attitudes, values and behaviours – will last far beyond the end of the coronavirus pandemic.
As communicators, we are acutely aware that our actions and word choices for employees, customers and communities today will be remembered tomorrow. We want our organizations not only to survive the economic impact of this pandemic but also to emerge as a trusted member of society who was alongside Canadians every step of the way, doing everything in our power to keep our country healthy. Soon, we will bridge to more positive, transitional messaging as we all prepare to re-open for business in a new reality.
So, what exactly do Canadians expect of business right now? What will it take to earn and maintain trust in these uncertain times? To glean perspective on these important questions, we recently issued a special edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer: Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Here are the key findings:
- 91% of Canadian respondents believe that brands should shift to producing products that help meet current challenges.
- 93% of Canadian respondents expect brands to partner with government and relief agencies to address the crisis.
- 90% of Canadian respondents want to hear how brands are supporting and protecting their employees and customers.
- 65% of Canadian respondents agree that how a brand responds to the crisis will impact their future purchases.
As business communicators, there are four key actions we should take:
- Show up and do your part.
Sixty-four per cent of Canadian respondents say that our country will not make it through the crisis without brands playing a critical role in addressing the challenges we face. Canadians also want to see action. Ninety-one per cent of Canadian respondents believe that brands should shift to producing products that help meet current challenges. Now is not the time to disappear; it’s the time to show up and use your resources and creativity to make a difference.
- Don’t act alone.
Ninety-three per cent of Canadian respondents believe companies should partner with government relief agencies to address the crisis. There is strength in collaboration. To truly help people during this crisis requires a joining of forces with others, most critically government. If you are engaging in efforts to support Canada and wondering whether you should talk about it on owned channels like your website and social media, the answer is yes. Ninety per cent of Canadian respondents want to hear how brands are supporting and protecting their employees and customers.
- Solve, don’t sell.
Canadians expect businesses to be sensitive to the current environment. Eighty-seven per cent of Canadian respondents say businesses should focus advertising on products and services that can help people cope with pandemic-related life changes, and 77 per cent say businesses should only talk about products in ways that show the business is aware of the crisis and the impact it is having on people’s lives. Brands should focus its efforts on finding appropriate and meaningful solutions to the problems people are facing today.
- Communicate with emotion, compassion and facts.
While it might feel odd to have a townhall meeting broadcasted from your CEO’s living room or an external video message delivered with emotion, this is what employees expect and customers call for. Eighty-three per cent say public statements should express empathy and support for those most affected by the pandemic. People are reassured by positive brand actions and commitments. Communicate with empathy to both inform and calm.
The findings are resoundingly clear. This is a moment in time for brands to step up into their purpose and to be part of the solution. The world needs it, consumers expect it and the actions taken today will impact the trust brands hold in the future.
For a full copy of the report, please reach out to me directly.