COMMUNICATING IN THE COVID-19 ERA
COMMUNICATING IN THE COVID-19 ERA
2020 will be remembered by generations as the year in which Covid-19 disrupted people’s lives all over the world. The magnitude of the spread of the virus forced governments to shut down economies and “lockdown” became part of our daily vocabulary.
Businesses and individuals faced the same challenges. Indeed, being forced to stay apart meant finding new ways to communicate while maintaining distance and this led to a massive increase in technology adoption.
In everyday life we became accustomed to digital, remote happy hours to try new ways of being close to friends. Families reunited over long-distance communications platforms, while even grandparents ended up being familiar with video calls.
Overwhelmingly, people started relying on internet to keep track of how the situation was evolving and to retrieve information. The use of social media has accelerated to the point of becoming a ubiquitous part of modern life and everyone had to adapt to this new condition; people and businesses alike.
In the aftermath of the outbreak, we have seen companies rushing to conform to the new norms, while media accelerated an already ongoing transition by turning their content digital in a very short period of time.
In the words of Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
Fincom Alliance, the pan-European network of independent agencies specialised in PR and communication for the financial sector, decided to analyse what adaptability meant for financial and fintech companies when it comes to communication practices, as well as what kind of consequences the pandemic had for how the public perceives traditional media.
Fincom launched a survey at the end of 2020 aimed at collecting information from investment managers, FinTechs, insurers and service providers, as well as national regulators from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Spain and Switzerland.
Results showed how important digital communication has become in the Covid-19 era. The difficulties in reaching customers forced most respondents to get acquainted with digital tools, such as webinars, podcasts and social media. Here the clear winner has been LinkedIn, the preferred tool in B2B communication.
We also noted that organisations were producing more content and aiming at more direct distribution. But corporate communications, while informative, does not always constitute news.
However, having more information and content to hand did not jeopardise the role of media, which raised the bar during the pandemic, gaining influence and setting the path to become even more significant in the future according to survey respondents.
Digital did not overthrow traditional media, it empowered them. This means it will become more and more important for companies to invest in PR, but finding the balance between corporate content that is good for marketing purposes and those insights that are relevant for journalists will remain vital.
As a matter of fact, most of the participants in the survey declared their appreciation for the ability of PRs to work with available material and turn it into coverage, valuing this alongside an agency’s proactivity and connections. By contrast, and perhaps surprisingly, the ability of PR agencies to act as frontrunners in terms of emerging media and digital trends was not really appreciated.
Having collected opinions from one side of the panel of stakeholders, Fincom Alliance will widen the scope of the research to find out how journalists and media perceived the digital transition.