WEDNESDAY 7 OCT 2020 12:01 PM


The crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic gives no signs of stopping, and many of the changes it has brought are irreversible. In this climate, business who want to succeed, cannot apply a 'wait and see approach.' Will Painter, founder and CEO of PR consultancy WP Communications, discusses how businesses must re-model to adapt to this current environment and thrive in a 'new normal' by championing a strong brand and investing on external communications.

Ever heard of the quote that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity? Well this also describes a business that applies a wait and see approach to COVID-19 and expects to grow. 

As a business that has remained resilient and has continued to grow during the pandemic, I’ve seen first-hand that it’s not a case of returning to ‘normal’ as soon as possible. The environment dictated by the pandemic is very much our reality for the foreseeable future, and rather than looking back to nostalgic ways of working we must look forward to re-modelling businesses for the new environment that we live in. 

On the one hand, for the small and medium sized businesses there is a unique opportunity to gain market share. The world has reset its perceptions of daily living and so too have businesses. Now is the time for the innovators and trailblazers to demonstrate their value and impact while on a level playing field.  

Meanwhile, larger enterprises must prove they have the flexibility to re-shape and re-model themselves for a post-COVID-19 world if they are to retain and grow their existing customer base. 

While many businesses have on the whole been quick and responsive to the pandemic from an operational point of view, an often overlooked aspect of a business continuity plan is external communications. If businesses have not taken action by now they must re-focus their efforts on the potential for reputational damage that the pandemic could cause, especially if they do not have a robust plan in place. 

There have been a number of cases where businesses are making the news headlines for the wrong reasons, due to practices which aren’t fit for purpose: jeopardising the wellbeing of the workforce or profiteering from a state of crisis. 

Rather than calling out the names of these businesses, I would put a question to them. When we’ve got through and out the other side of the pandemic, how do you want to be remembered by society? How do you want to be remembered by your existing and prospective customers?  

Meanwhile, there have been a large number of companies that have gone into a communications 'lockdown' due to the uncertainty around the duration and the long term impact of COVID-19, unsure of their external position and whether or not it is appropriate to comment on the crisis.

Businesses that tread a risk-adverse path to communication cause just as much damage to their brand. In the absence of communication they are at risk of speculation. Is the business operational? Is the workforce active? What are their plans for the future?

For businesses to stay resilient and grow they must champion a strong brand during and following the pandemic. Companies need to find an authentic voice that demonstrates flexibility and empathy towards their customers and employees, and at the same time a vision for the future: How their business will continue to thrive in a post-COVID-19 world. This is what will win the trust of their customers, prospective customers, stakeholders and investors alike. 

Furthermore, communication must be aligned with action. What steps is your business taking to promote these messages and values? What channels are you using to drive these messages to your target audiences? To put it simply, the brands of tomorrow will be the ones that can share their post-COVID-19 vision today.