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Be Consistent Through Change

Albion Minerals®
Consistent Through Change Consistent Through Change

I have noticed two types of communication styles from companies during the pandemic: vocal and silent. Nobody usually says they like change. It takes you off your game, challenges you to think differently and forces you to operate in new ways. Change can be disruptive and unsettling to your team and customers, which is why during turbulent times in business, or in life, it is important to stay consistent through change with your communication.

Change Does Not “Blow Over”

Would you like to go on a cruise to an exotic island? My guess is that your answer in December 2019 would be much different than it is now. In March of 2020, I signed on a new client, Sagitravel Friendly, one of the largest international leaders in LGBTQ+ travel. At the time, no one would have guessed we would soon be plummeting into a pandemic that would change the way we travel indefinitely. Our pre-pandemic plan was to promote LGBTQ+ cruise packages, because the company had just launched the first skill with Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa, to assist LBGTQ+ travelers with booking cruise vacations using hands-free voice technology. Then COVID-19 happened, and a cruise ship was not exactly where anyone wanted to be. Worse for Sagitravel, and by government mandate, they were not even allowed to sell cruises. Originally my client suggested we push the publicity campaign off a couple months until things “blew over,” but my intuition was telling me that this “COVID-19 situation” was not going to blow over anytime soon.

Stay the Course

Instead of going silent indefinitely during a crisis, I recommended that Sagitravel use the publicity campaign to keep a consistent dialog with their customers, and potential customers, about travel restrictions and updates until they could sell cruise packages again. So, we launched a complimentary daily flash briefing on Amazon’s Alexa, to their Gay Travel skill, called “Gay Travel Today” to provide daily updates on travel alerts, in addition to specific ways the LGBTQ+ community could stay connected during this unusual travel restriction time, especially through the Pride season and events, which were rapidly being canceled. We used their spokesperson, Teraj, to host “Gay Travel Today” and he conducted media interviews on Skype and Zoom to bring words of encouragement to the LGBTQ+ community during this fear-driven and isolating time. The idea for Sagitravel was to keep a consistent dialog with their consumer base, build trust, and stay in communication, even though they had nothing to sell. Then once travel resumed, the marketing department would have a dedicated audience who remembered Sagitravel was there for them, when they needed them the most.

There Is Always Something to Sell

One of the things I have heard many natural products industry executives say since the pandemic, is that they have nothing to sell. Products are sold out, demand is high, or supply is low, so why promote? Their tactic is to stay silent. However, I would challenge that there is always something to sell. This is where public relations can really be an ally for your company. Although often confused as a sales tool, publicity is not a direct vehicle to sell products like an advertisement is designed to do. So, while it may make sense to suspend expensive advertising campaigns during supply and demand challenges, stopping all communication with your customer base will not benefit you in the long run. This is an excellent time to divert your marketing budget to a public relations campaign that can fill the communication void with your customer. Through a publicity campaign, for instance, you can educate your customers on valuable health facts, so they have a better understanding of why they need to live a healthy lifestyle all the time, and not just during a pandemic, which builds customer consistency and longevity. You can also use public relations to give more background on your company and team members so that your customers really get to know you, which builds brand familiarity and loyalty. And public relations can be a great tool to provide helpful resources to your customer, such as a time-saving app, nutrient test kits, or nutrition reference guides, which can make you more memorable than your competitor and keep you at the forefront of your customers’ decision making.

In Uncertainty, Create a Win

Your customers are not the only ones who need your attention during times of change. In the middle of calamity, chaos and crisis, everyone on your team still needs to be set up for a win. Perhaps you need to revisit bonuses or sales goals? Has the climate shifted so much that your 2019 goals seem unattainable today? Or maybe they are too easy, and you have lost that internal competitive edge once felt? Take a hard look at your internal company culture. Is your team discouraged with unrealistic goals? Are they looking for different outlets of challenge because their job is too easy now?

Whether you are setting goals for yourself or for your team, create a pathway to success especially when everything around you seems to have turned upside down. Everyone needs to feel productive, accomplished and needed, so set yourself or your team up for a win. Maybe you initiate a weekly contest with your team to win a gift card or free food shipment. Make it something obtainable, but still competitive and fun that will inch you closer to your overall goals. Give high praise to the winner and repeat as needed. Remember, your team members are also most likely dealing with a lot of uncertainty at home, so giving them a win at work builds a sense of accomplishment, which leads to company loyalty.

If you are setting up a win for yourself, maybe you accomplish a task you have been putting off for a while and then reward yourself with a day of doing nothing or indulging in a favorite activity. Structure coupled with goals provides focus and joy in the middle of uncertain times. Everyone needs a boost, especially in the middle of uncertainty, and using a public relations campaign with your own team can help you create a winnable, achievable game that if played well will bring the company consistent success.

Consistency Is Key

I have to admit that I do not like change, which is why I embraced it as my mantra word for 2021. My goal this past year was to be more comfortable with change professionally and personally, and I have discovered that when you create some level of consistency in the middle of changing times, it is not so bad. In a lot of ways change can be beneficial, especially when it is forced upon us. For example, one of my best team members joined me this year after another team member abruptly quit. Some of our regular clients did not work with us this year, but that allowed us to work with some new companies and experts, which has brought us more diversity in what we are pitching, resulting in increased interest from media.

Change can be disruptive and unsettling, but do not go silent or disappear during these times. Utilize public relations tools as an authentic and cost-effective way to be a consistent voice with your customers and team members through changing times. Being consistent gives us an opportunity to maintain and build relationships, while potentially expanding our audience and building brand and company loyalty. Keep relationships going—internally and externally—by being there and communicating consistently so your stakeholders know you care about them more than you care about making money off of them. NIE

Amy Summers launched Pitch Publicity in the face of a rapidly cAmy Summers launched Pitch Publicity in the face of a rapidly changing climate for communication and media relations in 2003. She has more than 20 years of experience working with major clients in natural health to increase visibility through national publicity exposure. “The Pitch with Amy Summers,” flash briefing went live in 2018 and quickly became one of the most highly ranked communications flash briefings on Amazon’s Alexa. After 500 consecutive episodes, Summers launched her second company, INICIVOX, in February 2020 to help individuals improve a wide range of soft skills centered on the complexity of communications. Explore publicity opportunities: www.pitchpublicitynyc.com Take a communications deep dive: www.INICIVOX.com. Receive free daily pitch tips from “The Pitch with Amy Summers” flash briefing on Amazon’s Alexa, Google Play, iTunes, Spotify, Audible, Pandora and anywhere voice is heard: www.INICIVOX.com.