Community platform for communicators and marketers who have had to rapidly adapt to a changing market in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These have been drastic times. As we stayed apart in 2020 in order to band together, our global efforts of social distancing have had significant impacts on the way we do business. We’ve had to be careful, smart, strategic and creative, to keep businesses operating and mitigate anxiety for employees, members, clients and suppliers.
We believe in the creative power of the human mind and by putting our heads together, we can come up with creative and innovative solutions to help many brands come out the other side of this.
To do our bit, we launched OTM Outreach 2020. It is a free virtual helpline and shared platform for marketing, communications, and creative advice and insights. Whether you have questions about digital marketing, content creation, public relations, client or employee communications or change management, we’re here to help our community communicate and respond as best they can in this changing climate.
The helpline to submit questions is available via the form below. We also hosted a live weekly Q&A sessions in the first half of the year. Recordings are available on our blog and the OTM Outreach 2020 Half Yearly Report is now available for download.
Recorded Live Q&A Webinars | Related articles
Submit your question to our Free Virtual Helpline using the form below:
Your questions answered
WORK IN PROGRESS – FAQ will be filled in as questions are submitted. Please note that our team members are providing their support to you free of charge. We’ll set aside 1-hour each day to review questions and send responses.
Email is still among the most valuable communication tools. There are external influences reflecting the downturn in open rates, however as long as your content is valuable you should continue to send them out. Value is the key. Listen to your audience by the numbers and conversations you have, gear your content strategy to meet their needs.
Also, your unsubscribe rates are really important, it helps you understand your true audience. People have time to clear out their inbox, so don’t be too disheartened when your numbers start to decline.
Overall, don’t do the hard sell and keep it relevant and true to your brand.
We don’t think so!
Don’t write yourself off, you can still demonstrate your value with clever documentation – bring your business objectives and KPI results to the forefront of your case. Articulate how you are truly adding value and what deliberate decisions you made to improve core business activities.
The most important thing is to keep your brand promise.
Focus on the purpose that you’re delivering on and why your customers and users should keep coming back to you.
Personal human experience is emphasised and easily recognised through video – messaging comes across more genuine and authentic from a champion and believer of your brand.
Dive into your data! Recognise where the majority of your revenue comes from and focus on service delivery across the most effective channel based on your analytics. Localise with Google Ad spend, or segment your EDM messaging to suit the most engaged user lists or consumers geographically.
Get close to your CFO and technology team, talk about necessity. If there is a need to run lean for while, turn off what’s not working!
Get an understanding of everyone’s skills and their way of working.
Develop your overall team goals. e.g. Always putting the customer first in decision making.
Understand the value of a multi-disciplinary team structure or Subject Matter Expert (SME) teams.
Work out whether Agile is the right delivery methodology for your business by researching it’s advantages.
Read SPRINT Marketing for shorter iterative solutions: https://www.thesprintbook.com/
Or read an excellent overview of GOV.UK Service Manual on Agile delivery
What are some top improvements to the way you communicate that you would like to see continue in a post-COVID-19 return-to-work environment?
- Adopting of the new project management system.
- Staying on top of new learned behaviours.
- Using technology properly.
- Being succinct or explicit with your messaging.
- Time efficiency, cutting out noise or extra conversation, getting to delivery faster.
- The value of a daily standup!
- Improved or more authentic connections. Genuine collaborating.
When discussing process, can you share any tools that may be helpful for creating and scheduling content plans?
Ideas need to be generated, approved and rolled out, so sometimes it’s quite useful to visually organise the process or progress. Organisations of varying sizes will suit different systems. However, we have compiled a list of useful tools we and some of our business peers use, such as:
Try and discover digestible pieces of information that customers can take action on, or consider different parts of your service offering. Tips on the market or perhaps break down your existing content that is assuring people who haven’t experienced your offering and have questions that can be answered now. Instil confidence in your customers.
Also try using technology platforms such as Google Trends for research on high ranking search terms.
To decide on format, look at your analytics, specifically your top traffic and engagement numbers on each of your marketing channels. This will give your resources an indication of where to focus their attention in posting new content. An SEO specialist can also provide these insights for you.
Some of our OTM staff have hosted, co-hosted or assisted in setting up online events with varying participant numbers.
We can provide specific assistance if you are interested in shifting to the online event space.
Here are some links to cloud services that you could use:
Social livestream platforms include:
Webinar platform options include:
- 6connex: Available on any browser or device, with no download required. Features include flexible registration, social media integration, and real-time analytics.
- Crowdcast: Can be joined through a single URL. Tools include built-in registration forms, analytics, replays, and more.
- Demio: Allows for pre-recorded or live webinars—or a mix of both. Includes private chat, interactive polls, call-to-action buttons, and other features.
- Livestorm: On-demand webinars from Livestorm include integrations with Google Analytics, Slack, and various engagement tools.
- WebinarNinja: No need to download software for this platform, which offers paid and free events, 1,000+ app integrations, and even Facebook Pixel ad tracking.
- Zoom: Can have one host, group chat—and even offers breakout rooms. Plans cover from 100 to 10,000 view-only attendees.
- YouTube Livestream: A free and easy option for streaming live webinars.
With the overload of COVID-19 communications, how do we cut through this? Do you have insights into what consumers really want to know?
Regarding the cut through part of your question:
It is difficult to cut-through right now, although we are starting to see a shift in the news with more space opening up to non-COVID-19 related stories. We are also seeing what appears to be a decrease in the intensity of concern about COVID-19 among the general population (cite: The Lab Insights); it is however still top of mind for the majority of people so you need to be mindful of how useful or helpful your message is to people right now. If your news stories or other content is of use and relevance to your audience right now then sharing your message is worth doing. If not, then just wait a little longer. To cut through you’ll need things like:
- really compelling headlines and calls to action;
- bite-size attention grabbers such as great photos, video clips or written copy
- useful information such as research, templates, how-to guides or other items that are relevant to your industry
Regarding the insights part of your question, here are some key takeaways from two recent Edelman studies (1. Edelman Trust Barometer special report, Trust and the Coronavirus, and 2. Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic, a 12-market study on what is expected of brands during the pandemic. Source: https://www.edelman.com.au/insights/How-brands-can-do-the-right-thing-in-the-age-of-COVID-19)
- “stop selling and start solving, offering tangible and fast-moving solutions that help everyone through this difficult time. Brands that do so will come through the crisis with their integrity intact, while those that do not may face a backlash.”
- “89 per cent of respondents say brands should shift production to goods that meet the challenges of COVID-19”
- “54 per cent of respondents to our research say they’re not paying attention to new products right now, unless designed to help with pandemic-related life challenges”
- “We’ve seen 89 per cent of our respondents tell us brands should keep the public fully informed on how they’re supporting and protecting their employees and customers, while 88 per cent want to be kept updated regarding changes to brand operations and how to access products and services. Transparency is always valuable, but it’s particularly key during these moments of crisis.”
- “LinkedIn is working to raise awareness around an offering of free job listings until June 30 for businesses in healthcare, warehousing, supermarket, and freight delivery, as well as the serving of urgent jobs listings, like those in healthcare services, to members with relevant skills.”
- “a clear desire amongst 90 per cent of respondents that brands partner with government to better deal with the crisis”
- “86 per cent of people hope brands will provide a safety net where government is unable to act or perhaps unable to act quickly enough”
- “Sixty-five per cent of respondents say that how a brand responds will likely have a huge impact on their likelihood of buying that brand in future”
- “71 per cent of people claim that if they perceived a brand to be putting profit over people, they would lose trust in that brand forever”
Another useful information source for brands at this time is : https://www.covid19brandnavigator.com/
Can you help us with marketing tips for customers who don’t use social or digital media? What strategies can we use?
FULL QUESTION: Not all of our target group (community organisation) uses social media or is even online. Are there any marketing strategies you can suggest to use with people who have either never opted in to social media, or perhaps have been in and now opted out? Social media and digital marketing are undoubtedly very powerful tools, however do we still need to consider how to reach those who are not part of that world? And what strategies work for them? If we only include in our planning those people who are digitally engaged, are we effectively excluding a significant part of the potential market?
- If you have their mailing addresses you could target them with a printed direct mail piece. This could be as simple as a personal letter from you or a designed pamphlet or brochure. If it is a small number of recipients then you could print and manage the distribution yourself via Australia Post. Alternatively you could use a specialist direct mail house such as DMO (note that we have no affiliation with any of these services). Many services will also offer discounts for registered not for profits. https://www.mydmo.com.au/mail/
- If you have their mobile phone numbers you could send an SMS campaign. These need to be very short and succinct messages with a clear call to action. You could consider making the call to action to join your social media channel. Or, tie the CTA to a specific campaign such as registering for an event after the Coronavirus restrictions are lifted. Ensure that when you are doing SMS or Email marketing that comply with the SPAM Act (more info here: https://www.acma.gov.au/avoid-sending-spam). There are many online services and tools for sending bulk SMS marketing or alerts. Some examples include Vision 6 (they offer 25% discount off retail price for registered charities and OTM is a reseller partner so let us know if we can help you to sign up), Direct SMS, SMS Broadcast (no affiliations here) etc.
- If you don’t have a mailing list or phone number list then other options for marketing offline can include:
- Letterbox drops (you select the postcodes you want to target and outsource to a distributor). Example of a provider: https://www.rotondos.com.au/distribution/
- Complementary providers – think about your target market and what other businesses or service organisations they use. You may identify some complementary organisations to help share your message. For example, in the case of trying to reach older women in the community at this time when they may not be going out as frequently you may be able to approach local businesses doing home deliveries such as pharmacies, groceries and ask if they will include a pamphlet of information in the package.
- Media stories– developing stories that would be of interest to your target audience and then approaching editors or journalists for publications that distribute to your target market. Perhaps you could profile some of your OWN network members and invite journalists to interview them for their publication. In the case of older women across Brisbane this could include community newspapers such as Quest, local publications such as Village Life, Brisbane News, Style, RACQ’s Road Ahead, Seniors Magazine etc.
- Advertising – if you have the budget you could consider advertising in suitable publications that reach your target market. Many publications offer discounts for charities.
- Influencers – think about the people who are trusted sources of information for your target market. This may include family members such as adult children who do use social media. Once you’ve identified the influencers you may find that social media marketing can be targeted to these influencers and get them to appeal to the older women in their life.
Can I still be up-beat and fun with my marketing at the moment? I have a personal brand that is all about vitality.
This is a great question and one that even those of us who do not have a personal brand wondering about in different degrees. We think you should stay true to your brand and continue to share vitality with your network and clients. It is our view that people will welcome up-beat and positive messages right now, as long as they are sensitive in tone and delivery. Stay authentic and honest; be helpful; offer friendly relief from the dearth of difficult health and economic news.
The advice from our panel…
- Keep it simple, focus on the content and don’t worry too much about the delivery mechanism. Particularly for inhouse meetings it is important that people have a platform to get the information they need.
- Plan. Plan. Plan. Test. Test. Test. Rehearse. Market……It is relatively easy to set up an event, but the planning, testing, rehearsing and marketing of the event is often overlooked. Just as you wouldn’t wing an in-person event, make sure you spend the time preparing and marketing for your online event.
- Resource your event appropriately. Depending on the magnitude of your event it is worth having a production person supporting you – someone who can be a co-host of your webinar, manage the digitial interactions with Q&A, facilitate conversations etc. The idea is that the presenter or facilitator should be focusing on doing just that, and their should be someone behind the scenes making sure the production all works.
Do you have any tips for how to brainstorm and run a creative session when we’re all working remotely?
We acknowledge this can be hard when you can’t all jump into the studio and whiteboard, talk with hands etc. However there are tools out there to make it easier. One example is MIRO. The other advice from our panel is to make space for quiet so you can be creative. If you are always 100% ‘busy’ on delivering/planning/admin/meetings etc you do not give yourself the thinking time/reflective time to allow creativity to happen. Take some time away from your workstation….go for a walk, lie on the grass etc.
FULL QUESTION: A lot of businesses have learned to adapt to COVID-19 by having employees work at home and other techniques. Are we seeing businesses start to think about making some of these changes permanent and actually changing their business models? I’m thinking about the consulting professions – are clients / patients growing accustomed to remote consultations?
ANSWER: Yes, we think some of the changes will stick. Marketers and business owners are being forced to innovate, pivot or fast-track new ways of doing things. Many are experimenting with doing things in ways they haven’t done before and whilst some of those experiments won’t work, others will and could create a permanent shift for some businesses. For example, as people fast-track their move to more digital marketing or online content production they might find that it works and they get better at doing it so it becomes a BAU activity in the future. Some of our panelists are seeing that older Australians are among the largest group of people who are taking up social media communications; and the use of handheld devices. They’re also seeing markets and connections open up that they may not otherwise have had; meaning they are reaching new people beyond their current local networks because they are now moving more of their services online.
It is important to consider your messaging and distribution strategy carefully at this time as the digital and print media is very full of Coronavirus news. Consider how your organisation can be of assistance and if your good news demonstrates how you are well placed to help. The link between your news and Coronavirus needs to be genuine and compelling to ensure you do not appear opportunistic nor indifferent.
If you do decide that your news is genuinely appropriate at the moment our suggestions would include:
- Write a media release and share it with relevant media in the industries you are targeting
- Self publish an article on your own website/blog and also make sure there is a feature on your home page
- Self publish an article on LinkedIn
- Create a post on social media
- Consider setting up a paid digital campaign, advertising on social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram (platform depends on who you are trying to reach)
- Use testimonials from existing clients or users
- Send an announcement via email to your existing database encouraging them to share the news with their networks
- Depending on who you are trying to reach it is important that in any of the communications or advertising activities you have a clear call to action so that you can capture people’s interest quickly. This could be a landing page on your website with a form to convert; it could be a form or other call to action within the digital advertisement itself (i.e. a Facebook form, Facebook callback button)
Keeping employees feeling secure in these rapidly changing times is a continual challenge. Reassure your staff by communicating useful information quickly and regularly in a calm, honest and succinct way. It can be helpful to develop a communications plan and we have created a COVID19 Internal Communications Plan Template free for you to use which will guide you through this process. Key things to consider are:
- Identify the purpose of your organisation and how this is threatened by the crisis.
- Identify the actions you need to focus on, linking them to your key purpose.
- Identify your crisis communication team. Nominate a respected senior member of staff as your spokesperson. Your team may include members of communications, legal, information technology, human resources and health and safety teams.
- Identify the channels you will use to communicate with your staff. These may include email, text messaging, phone, intranet pages, online collaboration tools or physical messaging. Ensure that the channels you select are accessible by staff who may be unable to access online systems.
- Determine the frequency of your communications on each channel. How will you keep your staff informed without overwhelming them.
- Consider two way communication, let employees know how to contact you to ask questions or raise issues.
- Create a central location for information on your intranet or in a fact sheet that can be emailed to staff without access to the intranet.
- Brief your line managers, let them know what to say and how to help their team members.
- In the case that staff may have to be laid off communicate quickly and clearly, directing people to both internal and external support services.
Reassure your staff by letting them know how they you will support them while providing prompt and consistent advice on their role and responsibilities connecting their actions to the wider purpose and aims of your organisation.
The volume of digital marketing emails, social media posts and other online content has increased so much in recent weeks. Should I be doing it too and how do I stand out?
Great question that I’m sure we are all feeling right now. Our advice is that yes, you should be doing digital marketing, however make sure that what you are sending/posting/publishing is relevant to your audience right now. In short:
- Make sure you are addressing a need with your communications
- Make it creative and engaging
- Send it to the relevant people
- Don’t pop up out of the blue in someone’s inbox unless it is going to make sense for their current situation.
See 17:48 – 18.40 in this recorded webinar for more on this question.
We are working on a PR announcement that is not related to COVID-19. Should we continue with issuing the press release or hold off?
This was at first a tricky question, however after discussing with our team and consulting with some trusted journalists our advice is to hold off if it is not truly breaking news and/or it doesn’t have a genuine link to the current situation.
- Don’t be opportunistic: Avoid making tenuous Coronavirus related announcements that do not have a clear connection as it will look opportunistic
- Monitor the headlines over the next few weeks and determine if you think there is appetite for your story
Consult with trusted journalists in your sector to gauge their interest.
How do I submit a question to the virtual helpline?
- Fill in the form above, or Email your question directly to our shared Helpline mailbox.