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Embracing the C-word

Embracing the C-word

There’s no escaping the dreaded C-word. Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has intensified its grip on the world, with few industries escaping its wrath. It’s a testing time and one that is already having ramifications on businesses.

Yet, while not detracting from the severity of the situation, it is important for companies to increase focus on integrated communications in a crisis. Often, at times like these, decision makers are too quick to tighten the PR and marketing purse strings, trying to make short-term savings that result in longer-term implications.

At times of crisis, it’s vital to communicate.

COVID-19 has brought the world of sport to its knees. The effect of event cancellations has been profound, and touches all involved. There are freelancers, agencies and countless other businesses, whose daily lives are dependent on events taking place. The void left by cancellations and postponements could be irreparable. 

It is at challenging times like these when communications professionals can make a genuine difference. Those who know how to respond calmly and clearly to fast changing, unpredictable scenarios, how to generate responsive statements in a timely manner, and how to keep business wheels on the track

Speaking of keeping things on track, you only have to look at Formula 1’s mis-handled communications at the Australian Grand Prix to see how even the highest profile sports can struggle with extraordinary situations.

There’s another ‘c’ word that comes to the fore at times of crisis: creativity.

The absence of events leaves a gaping hole in the content plan. Plugging the gap where a match, race, tournament or series launch would have sat requires that old cliché of thinking out of the box. When the going gets tough, communicators get creative. It’s not just about content, it’s more widely about communication. It’s about communities rallying together to support each other, to engage followers and fans and to generate a feeling of positivity against a backdrop of uncertainty.

We applaud the efforts of Dailysportscar.com and Graham Goodwin for using their platform to showcase the talents of the many impressive motorsport freelancers, whose livelihoods are being hit currently.

Well done to The Race and Veloce Esports for a quick response to the Australian GP cancellation with their hugely successful sim racing events. Grids full of professional racers, gamers and the odd Real Madrid goalkeeper (step up, Thibaut Courtois!) made for cracking entertainment. The Race’s All-Star Esports Battle was watched by a total audience of more than a million people, while McLaren F1 driver Lando Norris contributed to an audience of around 100,000 following Veloce Esports ‘Not The Aus GP’ live.

At SQN, we’ve been working with our clients at TOYOTA GAZOO Racing to turn fan disappointment at the cancelled 1,000 Miles of Sebring into a positive – and so the #1000SmilesofSebring was born. Competitions, fun facts, engaging posts and a bit of gentle humour has helped to keep fans smiling.

“Say what you will about quarantine but it’s really producing some truly magical content,” said Twitter user Jack.

Esports is an obvious alternative during the unexpected and unwanted ‘off-season’, but we’ll almost certainly see more creativity emanating from sports brands in the coming weeks and months. These are uncertain and unprecedented times, but communication and togetherness should play an even more pivotal role than normal.

By being creative in the face of adversity it means companies can continue to communicate with audiences. It might even help attract new fans or customers. A bit of creativity and fun can go a long way in times like these; just embrace the ‘c’ word.