By James de Mellow, Associate Content Director
It’s become clear that the next few months are going to be anything but business as usual. The evolving coronavirus situation is a worldwide public health crisis and organisations are rightly putting the health and wellbeing of their employees first.
A secondary, but nevertheless important, concern for businesses is understanding how they can continue operations in a landscape that is constantly shifting. Conferences and events have been cancelled all over the world. Companies and their staff are gearing up for extended periods of working from home, travel restrictions are coming into effect and in-person meetings are beginning to be severely restricted. Whatever may come in terms of limits on our ability to gather and work ‘normally’, businesses will do as much as they possibly can to keep working.
Nowhere will this be more important than in B2B communications, where large-scale conferences and events, in-person relationship-building with clients and media, and regular travel have been mainstays of the comms mix for decades. Putting a temporary pause on these activities creates two main issues for B2B communicators:
- It removes well-established and effective communications tools, which ultimately affects a business’s ability to grow revenue
- The potential vacuum created by the, however temporary, pausing of these channels will have a negative impact on confidence.
However, brands can mitigate the worst of these changes if they are nimble and can quickly pivot to a content led-strategy for consistent and engaging communication during this events-free period. It’s likely, of course, that there will be content campaigns of various shapes and sizes already in place, but ramping up of content-focused activity across the board will do much to reassure customers and partners and show that a brand is still open for business.
Messaging or themes that were intended for use at a now-cancelled event can be repurposed to deliver the desired outcome with particular target audiences:
- Ramping up the development of blog posts and opinion pieces – both on owned channels and pitched into media – will demonstrate continued thought leadership and expertise in key areas. With the wider global situation, B2B brands need to be mindful of the tone and authenticity of their communications. Coronavirus of course can’t go unmentioned, but content needs to be firmly rooted in areas where the brand has expertise, rather than straying onto unfamiliar turf
- Webinars will undoubtedly become more popular as teams get used to connecting primarily via online tools. Livestreaming a presentation or seminar allows a brand to continue to interact with its audiences and will position it as both reliable and helpful during an uncertain time
- Content doesn’t have to be long in the planning and execution. Short video clips or LinkedIn updates can do a lot to keep your audiences up to date – and the occasional tailored email to prospects or other contacts that you’d otherwise be meeting at events can go a long way in keeping conversations going
- It’s not only about maintaining a relationship with external audiences – a B2B brand’s increasingly dispersed employees will need to know their employer is still there for them, too. Remember that your workforce is also paying attention to anything the business says externally, and this needs to be consistent with internal comms. And of course internal comms content can – and should – play a role in helping maintain employee engagement while many are working remotely.
The coming months will be a difficult and uncertain time, but business will continue and – thanks to connected technology – we have the means to do so. We’re sociable animals and will miss the interaction we have with our colleagues and partners in the B2B world. But in the meantime, a shift in B2B comms strategies towards prioritising content over face-to-face contact will provide a vital boost to the bottom line while maintaining as much normality as possible.