6 PR and comms lessons from 6 companies – great, large and small

It feels as if we are ‘past the peak’ of COVID-19 hospitalization rates – welcome news for us all, but it is also beginning to feel as if we’re ‘past the peak’ of shock-factor COVID-19 news items. The conversation is now shifting toward the brave new post-COVID world as we all pick ourselves up over the coming months.

During this period we’ve been routinely sharing business continuity best practice tips on our blog. We’ve been involved with and have seen some trend-setters leading the way by clearly demonstrating the value and support they have delivered to their customers, employees and partners during a difficult time. 

We’ve selected six shining examples set by innovative leaders over the last month or so.

1. Going virtual becomes the new norm

Virtual training, virtual webinars – videoconferencing has been trying for over 20 years to convince the world that the way forward was video – it took COVID-19 and a world on lockdown to make it happen!

Software giant SAP moved very quickly during late March and early April to signal it had things under control. For its users and partners, it swiftly announced that its showcase event SAP Sapphire – scheduled to take place in the U.S. in May – had gone fully virtual.

Our leading global data analytics client has done the same, taking its flagship U.K. InsurTech event, Verisk Vision, into the virtual world. The one-day event in June will virtually bring together customers from world-leading insurers and industry experts from across the insurance and legal spectrum to share knowledge and best practice advice.

2. At your service, research takes pole position to help mitigate COVID-19 business impact

Long-famed for its strong brand values and extraordinary computing power, IBM responded to COVID-19 in typical fashion with an extensive support strategy. The company has put IBM Watson to work in 22 countries, delivering fast, accurate COVID-19 answers for customers, employees and citizens.

IBM has the wellie to bring together the Federal government, industry and academia to provide access to the world’s most powerful high-performance computing resources to support COVID-19 research. But on a smaller scale, one IBA client has picked up the baton to provide answers for customers and employees.

RavenCSI is an Arizona-based software developer that has made its market research tool freely available to enable businesses of all sizes and industries to quickly survey the post-COVID-19 concerns of their customers and employees. When you need to know about your customers’ angst over social distancing, traceability throughout the supply chain or employee attitudes to returning to work, RavenCSI is helping collect the answers.

3. Find a customer: Remote assistance software answers the call

Microsoft mobilized quickly to help healthcare organizations that were being inundated with calls from worried citizens. The problem meant finding a way around the need for call center volumes to double, but to also adhere to strict social distancing measures.

The result? A stand-out case study on how leading European health organizations are using its healthcare bot – powered by Microsoft Azure, AI and natural language processing – to help screen people for potential coronavirus infection and treatment.

Another IBA client has also been answering the call for end-customer support when social distancing has threatened business continuity. Enterprise software specialist IFS helped global climate control solutions provider, Munters, roll out merged reality remote assistance to ensure continuity in customer service, manufacturing operations and servitization efforts. Two weeks later, 200 staff across 22 countries were benefiting from the technology.

4. Bring worldwide expertise in one place and share a framework for business continuity

With its roll call of leading and innovative organizations, the World Economic Forum (WEF) quickly realized it could become a powerful vehicle for information on how businesses are reacting to the global crisis.

It has added COVID-19 as a content stream on the ‘global agenda’ section of its website. The result is an ever-growing archive of how businesses around the world are coming together to find innovative ways to minimize the impact on public health and to limit disruptions to economies and supply chains.

Meanwhile, multinational professional services firm EY has developed a framework based on four key pillars to help companies consider their priorities, actions and navigate these challenging times. In a piece of contributed thought leadership one of the organization’s managing partners outlined the framework for action for affected businesses: put people’s safety first, protect business continuity, build and secure liquidity and engage stakeholders.

5. An opportunity for brand stretch: Getting ready, all steady, to go

Another IBA client looking to build business continuity is agritech organization Scarab Solutions. It is using the extended lockdown period to finalize development of a new a new app-based tracking solution and diversify its client base by taking its extensive knowledge in pest and disease mapping for greenhouse plants out into the open field.

In the meantime, the company is laying down the external foundations to springboard the launch. Its experienced agronomists are continuing to gather momentum in agritech publications across the Americas, Europe and Africa by sharing their expertise in the form of thought leadership articles to help educate growers on the best ways to deal with crop pest and diseases. Momentum which will be carried over when the new solution is ready to launch.

6. Local champions lead the way

Our team has noticed outstanding innovation from businesses closer to home, with small local firms beginning to adapt their operations while bringing some lockdown cheer to their dedicated customer bases. We are sure you have some local champions too!

Customers kept knocking on his closed shop door, so the owner of Peterborough-based coffee shop Bean Around opened his doors (well, a pop-up counter!) for a limited time every day. Meanwhile, Grantham-based ice cream provider Franco’s Ices has taken to Facebook to accept orders and deliver fresh treats to the doors of families looking to lift their spirits during lockdown. 

The Albert Einstein saying goes ‘in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity’. These organizations applied very clear thinking to find a way through a new business conundrum. We don’t have to be Einsteins to follow their leads!

Jamie Kightley is Head of Client Services at IBA International.

Leave a comment