Five steps to take to maintain and increase the company's reputational capital:
Make an audit of your communications
When you get used to communicate in a certain way that suits your brand, you begin to take it for granted and rarely audit and reevaluate your communications. The majority of the companies generally do not have clear KPIs for all of their communications, not only in the direction of "advertising". And even if they have KPIs, they usually are about the post frequency or the number of media releases without any idea of what to do next. Moreover, choosing a tone of voice and specific communications topics rarely are a priority in company's communications strategy.
Try to write out the texts of your latest posts, comments and media articles in a separate document and reread them, highlighting emotionally charged words, frequently repeated words and topics that you are discussing. This will give you a rough idea of what your audience thinks about you. And after that you will be able match the real impression with your desired brand image.
One of the tools for this purpose is the communications matrix. Make a table where 3 lines intersect that correspond to your brand values, and 3 columns which correspond to the topics you want to talk about. At the intersections, you can formulate the messages you want to promote and then include them into your communications, choosing those that are most relevant to the context. In addition, set up a number of rules that you need to follow when writing texts. For example, always talk about yourself in the first person.
Build unity within the team
The audience won't see you as a string united brand if you're not sure of the unity within your own team. This is not only about the company's staff on the whole – according to our experience even within the top management team of corporations there are always discrepancies about the most important issues of brand development that are never openly discussed. It is best to involve your team in the work at the stage of audit and re-evaluation of communications – have everyone do the exercise described in the previous paragraph and compare their findings and suggestions with colleagues. During the discussion, you will be able to come up with common ideas that can unite everyone.
Establish direct contact with the audience
Many brand communications often seem impersonal. Communications strategies is often about the brand only, but not about the audience, which makes their messages insensitive in stressful situations. Tell your real-life stories on topics close to everyone – family, friendship, nostalgic memories of the world before quarantine – and ask your audience to share theirs. During lockdown, when everyone is experiencing a sense of alienation, your communications can be someone's salvation from loneliness.
Invite your audience to take collective action
It has long been a good practice to engage with your audience whenever possible – to engage in dialogue on social networks, to engage through contests and prize draws, and now also to conduct live broadcasts with Q&A sessions.
Some companies have long exploited people's desire for socialization and self-organization. Network marketing, for example, is built on it, and Groupon's discount service attracted new users by requiring existing users to collect a certain number of applications for a product in order to gain access to a profitable offer.You can also become a communication platform by launching different challenges, offering discounts and special offers to those who can invite their friends or find new ones to receive your product. In times of isolation, for many, this will be a good way to meet new people or resume the previous communications.
Plan your activities for the time after the quarantine
Do not rely on the fact that with the end of quarantine everything will be how it was. Even now, in the spring of 2020, it is obvious that the way we communicate, have fun and work will change forever. The same will be with your brand. If you followed the previous tips, you have already known your brand better – its strengths and weaknesses, and known your audience better and strengthen your connection with it. This knowledge can be the basis of the transformation process, which will be reflected in the new formulated ideology and the visual and verbal communications of your brand.