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Blog post
May 14, 2020

The 3 pillars of effective communication during COVID-19

In a time where there is an enormous amount of information, we focus on the role traditional and social media have on public opinion through media and reputation analysis across all forms of media. And how it looks through a media lens.  

In this blog, we discuss COVID-19 communication across various case studies and talk in depth about the 3 pillars of good communication during COVID-19.

  1. Clarity
  2. Compassion
  3. Creativity

 

You can also watch Isentia’a Ngaire Crawford discuss communicating through COVID-19 here

Clarity:

The clarity of information is incredibly important from the outset.

  • Be clear about what you know, what you’re doing and what you expect. 
  • Be clear about what you don’t know, and when you’ll have those answers.

For example, the New Zealand government and its COVID-19 response team have provided clear and consistent communication.

It’s easy to focus on the New Zealand Prime Minister and the effectiveness of her communication style. There are many things that get attributed to the Prime Minister because she is a woman: her empathy; how she manages conflict; how she defends her position, and; how she answers questions.

Beyond personal style, there was consistency to the NZ government’s communication that became part of everyday routines during level 4 lock down. The branding of communications was quick, and stayed consistent across all platforms for government information.The yellow striped logo and clear message to stay home, save lives, and the use of an alert level structure helped create a simple and effective message.

NZ Government communications messaging
The NZ government Covid-19 communications messaging

No communications response is perfect, and many elements of the NZ response haven’t kept up with the consistency in the detail, but the foundational message structure, visual brand and consistent delivery made it a framework that could withstand some of those inconsistencies. 

In Australia, there was a slower start to a consistent communications approach. Although an initial concern, the Australian government stepped up and are now delivering clear messages needed to cut through in a crisis. The Prime Minister has provided an important sense of consistency by holding regular press conferences to update the nation directly. Not only have announcements for economic stimulus packages and public health precautions been clear, detailed and decisive, they’ve been broadly welcomed.

Compassion:

Effective communication during COVID-19 requires compassion and it comes from understanding your audience. Empathy and compassion are central to effective communication through COVID-19 across all sectors. 

For a leader during a crisis, it’s crucial to be authentic, decisive and present. It’s important  to develop trust long before a crisis hits, so audiences will accept you as an authoritative source. 

COVID-19 has seen a shift to more empathetic leadership. Scott Morrison’s response has positioned him as more empathetic.He has shown the willingness to put his own customary views on hold including pledging to return the government’s budget to surplus. 

The government has placed medical experts at the centre of the response. A national cabinet has been formed – chaired by Morrison but including state premiers from both sides of politics. There’s no red or blue teams, it’s team Australia. Listening to experts is working. And working together, across political parties, is working.

How do people feel throughout COVID-19?

Across social media, discussions of mental health have increased more than 400% and references to anxiety have more than doubled. COVID-19 is also driving references to being unsafe, scared and isolated. 

Throughout the crisis, we’ve seen strong reactions to organisations trying to take advantage of the situation, and to point out organisations or people that weren’t playing by the rules. Level 4 lock downs in New Zealand were incredibly strict on retail. 

Compassion and social media do not always go hand in hand. Traditional media coverage often chastises social media for botting, conspiracy theories and misinformation, but social users have shown a hyper-awareness of mental health and safety.

The below images show social media users using a code to signal if someone needs help during lock down. While this might also be a performative gesture, it does set an expectation that abuse and toxic behaviours won’t be accepted.

Communications on social media

An example indicative of different political and media environments, the Malaysian government, in particular, the Ministry for women, asks women not to nag their husband, and to consider using the tone of Doraemon, a cartoon cat from Japan (see image above).

There was also some communication suggesting that women are to dress nicely and wear makeup while isolated at home. Social media went crazy over this communication. It was quickly turned into a meme, caused a lot of backlash and created international attention that probably wasn’t intended.

Creativity:

Creativity and innovation has been a theme during COVID-19.

Communication is at the core of innovation. A lot of organisations are delivering information in ways they weren’t expecting, or connecting with customers in a new way. Knowing your audience and your communication style is important when being creative. 

Although, with creativity comes over-saturation of information. Make sure your internal communications are on point, and your stakeholders/clients/customers know what’s going on, then start to look for those outward facing opportunities – it’s okay if there’s nothing to say right now. 

The core trends that have resonated on social media are: social distancing;  ways to stay connected; ways to keep kids entertained, and;  mental and physical well being. 

An interesting public health message example is Dettol’s hand washing challenge on TikTok, where people create dance moves around washing your hands. It’s communicating a known public health message in a creative way, to an audience that really wants to play by the rules and as a result, has over 50 billion views. 

TikTok handwash challenge
Dettol #HandWashChallenge on TikTok

What does all this mean for communicators?

A crisis is a crisis for a reason, very few people default to best practice behaviours in a crisis – but planning, and planning based on what has previously worked can help mitigate some of this pressure. 

The role of the media during COVID-19 hasn’t fundamentally changed as a trusted source. What has changed is that information is a far more crowded space, including content from traditional media sources, social media, influencers and the increased  access to content internationally. 

This means it’s important for your communication to be clear and consistent. Create a rhythm and content structure that makes your information easy to share and amplify. Check your crisis plans and consider how tied they are to a set of simple, core messages, or check what the process is to adapt and create messages in the first stage of a crisis.

It can be incredibly beneficial to get the foundations right, to gain trust, and create acceptance that all the information that may not be known yet. 

For more information on how your organisation can be better prepared for a crisis, get in touch with us today.

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The social trends and audience behind healthy drinking behaviour

While the pandemic and lockdowns made some people more likely to grab an alcoholic drink, audience interest in low alcohol or no alcohol drinks keeps growing online, both globally and in Australia. 

But what events are driving Australians towards the #sobercurious lifestyle? And which brands are piquing their interest?

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According to data from our sister company Pulsar, social conversation and search interest in low-no-alcohol peaked in April '21-Oct '21 as the press announced a $1 million government grant (as part of the Australian Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy) was awarded to Modus Operandi Brewery to manufacture a non-alcoholic ale, NORT. The mentions of low/no-alcohol experienced a peak in June, leading to Dry July and Sober October.

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Mention metrics show that health and socialising are major motivational drivers for Australians when choosing a drink of the low/no-alcohol variety. The two are closely related, as prominent tags associated with low/no-alcohol mentions are #mindfuldrinking, #soberissexy, and #soberdating.

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Meanwhile, popular millennial and gen z media outlets like Fashion Journal and Refinery29 are reporting on how-tos and the benefits of sober dating. Young Australians are reading that by avoiding the booze, their anxiety is reduced, and they are setting themselves up for relationship success.

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Mental health improvements associated with the trend aren’t the only benefits being publicised; the physical gains are too. Australian media personality Erin Holland told Women’s Health Magazine that her preparation for the popular reality series SAS Australia involved a strict no-alcohol rule. Rugby union Wallaby player Radiko Samo credited a no-alcohol stance to his improved performance on the field.

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The data also suggests Australians genuinely enjoy the taste of low/no-alcohol beverages followed by ethical reasons. For centuries, abstinence from alcoholic drinking has been tied to ethical beliefs, but open discussion and acknowledgment of Australia’s amoral history keep this motivator current. Aboriginal-owned and led non-alcoholic craft brewers SOBAH advocate for this and aim to break toxic Indigenous stereotypes by providing “healing opportunities outside the reliance on government funding and control."

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Globally, drinks like beer, vodka, and whiskey tend to be more popular, but Australian consumers are hitting the spirits and mixers. Non-alcoholic cocktail bars were springing up across Australian metropolitan areas like Brunswick Aces in Melbourne, giving non-drinkers a chance to socialise without feeling left out. From hotels to online delivery services, hospitality businesses connect with Aussies’ healthier lifestyle choices. In particular, small-batch distilleries and breweries utilising bush tucker flavours are getting covered in widely read hospitality and entertainment sites like Broadsheet. 

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Australian-made distilleries are also proud to represent the small-batch, independent ethos which aligns with the Aussie tendency to support one-of-kind artisanal producers over big-name brands.

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British and Australian brands Seedlip and Lyre’s appear as the most mentioned across media platforms between July-November 21. In the news, Aussie founded Lyres had taken out best non-alcoholic spirit for their Italian spritz at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Seedlip took out two non-alcoholic spirit awards in the Australian Drinks Awards held in November 2021.

While we might expect fitness enthusiasts to be discussing the benefits of lowering alcohol consumption online, a deep dive into the different audiences talking about low alcohol brands reveals this is a popular conversation amongst more niche subcultures.

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Across twitter, discussions of non-alcohol spirits are popular amongst Australian bookworms. Popular non-alcoholic brands like Lyres and Seadrift use old-fashioned or themed storytelling as part of their branding language—an aesthetic that lets  literary lovers know they ”can enjoy the mirth and merriment of a soiree or shindig” without alcohol. This group is also keen to share with their community the book they are currently reading and a matching mocktail.

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This trend continues to grow as Aussies aspire for optimal performance at work, in their social and romantic lives, and for their overall wellness. The data shows Aussies celebrating and sharing their alcohol-free experiences with their digital communities, and with the backing from the government and smaller brands taking out big awards, this trend continues to offer Australians an opportunity to get on the wagon.

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This blog was produced using data from our sister company 
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Thought Leadership
Australia gets on the wagon: what’s driving low and no alcohol trends
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The Philippine presidential candidates have had various strategies for their campaigns since their announcements via mainstream and social media. The public has had varied reactions to their movements.

Isentia, the leading media intelligence and insights solutions provider in the Philippines and Asia-Pacific, has created a report documenting the first 30 days of the Philippine Presidential Election campaigns.

The study seeks to comprehend the themes and sentiment of the media and digital public discussions on the identified candidates since the official campaign period from 8 February 2022 to 9 March 2022.

Fill up the form below to download the whitepaper and read more.

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Whitepaper
ISENTIA PHILIPPINES – The First 30 Days: The Philippine Presidential Race Campaign Period at a Glance

The Philippine presidential candidates have had various strategies for their campaigns since their announcements via mainstream and social media. The public has had varied reactions to their movements. The study seeks to comprehend the themes and sentiment of the media and digital public discussions on the identified candidates since the official campaign period from 8 February 2022 to 9 March 2022. Fill up the form to download the whitepaper and read more.

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IIt was just a week ago when I was asked to travel to Canberra to assist the Isentia Canberra team with the 2022-23 Budget. The team was preparing to provide our clients with a range of Parliamentary Services to support them throughout the Budget announcement and plethora of reactions, resulting in the most significant media day of the year. 

Isentia has an office right in the middle of the Parliamentary press gallery, above the House of Representatives, alongside the ABC, The Conversation, 9 News, 7 News and SBS had my head reeling. We are in the thick of the Budget conversation at Parliament House and have access to the Budget papers during lock-up. I am not going to lie, I would have loved to have gotten my hands and eyes on what lay inside the mass that is the Budget, but I was just as excited to be a part of Isentia’s first live stream of the conga line to deliver immediate stakeholder perspectives.

Lock-up team Whitney and Crystal ready to unpack the 2022 Budget for clients, pictured with Account Executives Melvic (right) and Nikhar (left)

This is my first time in Canberra and walking into Parliament House. It may sound ridiculous to some, but I felt the magnitude of decisions and words within this space as soon as I arrived. This could be due to the physical size of the building, the maze of corridors (I did get lost), or that Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Aged Care, passes by you, or Laura Tingle, ABC political journo heavyweight, is standing inside the courtyard cafe – no longer just a revered top news journalist on my TV screen. I am tempted to approach her and ask her thoughts on any Budget revelations, but professionalism nips that one in the bud.

The live stream is my main priority and ensuring we capture stakeholder responses as soon as lock-up ends. With the cool, calm, and collected Melvic (Canberra Account Executive) by my side, I felt we were prepared to capture all the opinions and critical commentary on Frydenberg’s latest Budget. But as Melvic had said to me plenty of times over the past couple of days while in Canberra, “you can’t exactly prepare for Budget night.” Speeches can go on for longer, lock-up can be delayed, and elevators can stop working. It was 7.30pm, and we (Melvic and myself) could not get to the second floor, where the press gallery and the conga line were to be. After semi-frantically looking for a way to get there – the elevator wouldn’t go to floor two, and the staircase was blocked off – our prayers were answered in the presence of a former staffer who took pity and showed us to an elevator that could get us there. The doors opened, and we were awkwardly confronted by a crowd of diners enjoying a catered event, but after casually walking by, we were able to get to the gallery and stream the conga line.

I staked my claim on a small footprint of space to set up Isentia’s nimble streaming equipment among tall, solid guys supporting big TV broadcast cameras. As speakers were changing over, we had to pause for one of them to change their camera battery. The speakers were unfazed by the background buzzing of phones, regular triggering of Parliament House clocks and adrenaline-pumped chatter of people in the corridors. I was particularly moved by the words of Carolyn Smith, Aged Care Director at the United Workers Union and a team of aged care workers who felt a lack of respect for what the Budget provided them. I wondered how journalists could keep it together when they were listening to the stories and concerns of people who really feel impacted by the decisions made here. These are comments and opinions that matter to our clients, and providing this service allows them to better inform their operations and objectives. After the last speaker, Melissa Donnelly, National President of the Community & Public Sector Union, had finished, the live stream was done. But the active alerts team weren’t.

Live stream conga line of Carolyn Smith, Aged Care Director, United Workers Union & Aged Care Workers (Curtis, Marina, Shin,Teresa)
Live stream conga line of Carolyn Smith, Aged Care Director, United Workers Union & Aged Care Workers (Curtis, Marina, Shin,Teresa)

The team, rapid-firing live alerts to clients after lock-up release, are able to provide clients near-immediate knowledge of key topics concerning their organisation. This being my crash course introduction to the chaos of a Budget night, I was not expecting the personal understanding and touch that went into the live active alerting process for clients. I pictured images of machines whirring and topics automatically ticking through Budget content, machines that made a detached decision about what was relevant to clients and made blanket sends without consideration. How our Account Executives, Crystal and Whitney, understood the ins and outs of the needs held by our clients does make a real difference to accuracy and content relevancy.

With the speed and focus they applied to this product offering (active alerts), you would have thought they were machines anyway. But a machine is not going to have their ongoing long-term client relationship and understanding of client development.

 It’s a wrap! Budget 2022 Isentia team, (from left) Crystal (Account Executive) Loren (Marketing Executive ANZ), Whitney (Account Executive), Melvic (Account Executive), Nikhar (Account Executive), Russ (Chief Commercial Officer). 

After the last active alert was sent, you could still feel the adrenaline. The pace and unpredictable circumstances that this team worked under were staggering, but we made it in the end. After a justified amount of snacking, we packed up the Isentia Parliament office and found our way to the car park, where everyone there that night was in a state of buzzed debriefing as they crouched into their Ubers home. I doubt anyone there got more than 5 hours of sleep that night, but it was amazing to be a part of how Isentia offers a unique service to clients. We look forward to giving the same level of tailored content to clients during the election coverage.

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Blog
Isentia bringing the 2022-23 Budget to Clients

Our Marketing Executive gets a crash course in Budget night at Isentia. We provide tailored media intelligence offerings. Discover the Isentia difference!

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