External comms - navigating change

For the purpose of this blog, in relation to your external audiences, we’re talking about communicating to both your customers and your franchise prospects. Don’t worry about whether you’re a B2B or B2C, a product or a service brand – it doesn’t matter, this is all relevant to you.

What does matter, arguably more than anything over the next few months, are three main things:

  • Band positioning
  • Clarity of message
  • Knowing your audience.

Of course, these things always matter. But now, it’s a case of ‘put a foot wrong’ and you could find yourself in some serious hot water with your public.

You may feel, like lots of brands we’ve spoken to, that you don’t really know what it’s appropriate to say and do when it comes to your marketing and PR messages right now. You definitely shouldn’t have gone quiet but take a read of our Growth in challenging times blog to find out more about why and how to leverage the opportunities in the market right now.

What you should be doing, is peeling back any obvious sales messages in your content and working to position your brand as a trustworthy, reliable source of a vital product or service. Or, if you had to temporarily cease operations, positioning yourself as a trustworthy and reliable source of information, guidance, support and/or entertainment. What this does is build trust and credibility and a base of loyal followers.

The aim of your external comms for the next three months should be to help customers to feel comfortable supporting you as a brand and for prospects to feel comfortable with your integrity and resilience – not to feel nauseated by the brand they were thinking of investing in because of insensitive sales messages they’ve seen coming from you at this time. That may mean that you have to put more emphasis on PR and less on advertising or just switch up your messaging… but that’s the whole point of having a PR plan laid out – you do have one, don’t you? If you can see it, you can review it, sense check it, change it, and monitor its application.

Still confused as to what that means you can talk about?

Here are a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing:

  • News of how you are genuinely supporting businesses or communities (no tenuous links please)
  • Hints and tips, expert guides and advice articles in area of specialism
  • Heart-warming and entertaining stories with a local hook, charitable angle or overcoming adversity theme
  • Positive news about your business: awards won, new offices opening and innovations. All of these things are still happening and it’s still OK to talk about them.

Really notice the lack of sales messages. We know we sound like a stuck record but we’re going to say it again because it’s so important. The aim of the game is to build trust, credibility and secure a position as a reliable and genuine brand. Those who can buy now, are much more likely to choose a well-positioned brand that they trust and those who will buy soon… you know, guess who they’re going to turn to when the time comes?

OK so, we said that three things mattered more than anything. The second two were clarity of message and knowing your audience. And they kind of go hand in hand.

If you want a prime example of the fallout when information isn’t clear and concise, look at what happened when the government changed their message from ‘stay at home’ to ‘stay alert’ in May. The split in the country was chasmic. Some people felt they got it and knew exactly what it meant for them and their circumstances. Others were totally confused, angry and upset. People are different and you must understand your audience in this same way, whether that’s franchise recruitment or end-user.

Here’s an easy (slightly tongue in cheek) rule to remember: if there is room for interpretation in your message then it will be misinterpreted. So, if you’ve got premises that are reopening or services resuming – communicate precisely when, how, and under what restrictions. If your interview process or your initial franchisee training is going ahead virtually – how are any formerly practical sessions being converted, what software will be used, who can attend?

It’s not rocket science, but it does need really careful consideration and time spent on it to get it right. And, as with all comms, using the right channels is important if you’re going to reach the right people in the right mindset.

TeamRev are always here to support you and during this time, we know how valuable a friendly face (albeit via zoom!) and some objective advice can be. If you want to chat to us about your PR activity, feel free to drop us a line at spark@revpr.co.uk.

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Email: spark@revpr.co.uk
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