There has been a significant rise in audience numbers across all forms of traditional media as people seek out credible and up-to-date information on the COVID-19 crisis.
The realisation that social media carries little to no authority and trust when it comes to news has been rammed home in recent weeks with an understandably concerned Australian public.
Given the surge in audience numbers, you would imagine that the media would be celebrating this as proof of authority and a validation of their place in the social and business landscape.
Yet all our recognised print mastheads and radio and television stations are struggling to retain revenue from their current advertisers let alone attract new business in these times.
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Many are laying off staff, decreasing newsroom numbers or asking staff to take significant pay cuts or work fewer hours.
“The media has never been in more demand yet is hurting more than it ever has,” said a journalist from a national print masthead.
“Our print and digital platforms have never seen the volume of people on them and yet our advertising support has dropped off a cliff.”
Right now, when the most eyeballs and ears are trained on traditional and trusted media, many brands are removing themselves from the advertising market.
I would argue that it’s times like these that businesses need to be communicating to their clients and customers to let them know that they are still around, are there to offer support, and will work through this.
Instead, many have rushed into their bunkers. And you can understand why.
We have never seen anything like this and the natural reaction by most businesses is to freeze. Stop what they are doing and stop spending money.
This has been a natural reaction, but this is not a natural crisis.
There is no road map to get out of this and there is certainly no blueprint for any business to work from. This is where brands and business must get smarter and be brave.
Businesses should break convention with the way they have handled crises in the past and start a new narrative for the way they communicate now and into the future.
We will always remember 2020 as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic that literally brought the globe to a standstill, and we will also never forget the way individuals and brands handled the crisis.
Those brands that are communicating now will be the businesses that will walk out of this, while others crawl.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, state and territory premiers, health professionals, frontline emergency services, teachers, media and charities and are all doing an exemplary job of communicating.
Politics has been left at the door now and people are uniting and working together to be a part of the solution. There is a swell of community spirit and an appetite to put this crisis to bed and we are seeing this happen daily, hour by hour, minute by minute.
The challenge is now set for businesses and brands who might not necessarily have a role to play in the stamping out this pandemic but want to be a part of the rebuild.
You need to follow the lead of those that have been vocal and haven’t retreated into their bunkers.
You have an incredible opportunity to amplify your message to audience numbers that haven’t been seen since the days before social media.
The playing field is there for you and it will be the brave and the bold that win.