Communication in the time of Coronavirus, written by Dr Borislav Miljanović
BoriseLave - Mar 24, 2020
The first two weeks have passed since the Corona outbreak, and now we can also see the first regularities in the communications industry in times of crisis. Considering that I always had an insight into the three businesses that we run within the Represent System, I can say that the reactions of both clients and different audiences were the same as in every crisis before, but we didn’t believe that they could also happen at the level of the entire world population.
First pattern: In times of crisis, people seek information. They look for news, they listen more carefully, they look for a way out for themselves and loved ones, and seek advice from whomever happens to have it. Our agency for monitoring and analyzing content on the Internet as well as in the classic media Digital Element noted that the same thing happened in Serbia as in the UK and US. With the outbreak of the crisis and pandemic, emerged also infodemic. Suddenly, among the most read posts on social networks are texts from various doctors or experts, who report from China or Italy, announcing the apocalypse and speaking about monstrosities of an invisible disease. And then the link between social networks and messaging applications, first of all Viber, further accelerates communication and spreads panic. At one point, this became a state problem, when some ideas consisted of suggesting to shut down all social networks in Serbia during the state of emergency. Fortunately, this idea was quickly dismissed, as it would only make the panic worse.
Second pattern: In this search for information, people naturally recognize and crave real and verified information. When making serious decisions, nobody wants to base his decisions on unverified, unsafe, false information. But who to trust? The media is still the first choice, people watch TV more, websites are searched. Are they to be trusted? The same media who now tells us not to panic, was spreading information about a ridiculous virus that can be stopped with a glass of brandy. How to trust them now and believe that we shouldn’t leave our homes? We have seen the true power of verified information through our media platform BizLife. Media that had an average daily attendance of about 25,000 by the outbreak of the crisis is now experiencing an exponential increase in readership. In the first few days of the crisis, the traffic doubled, then it tripled, and then our site crashed over the weekend, as on Sunday the visit jumped to an incredible 185,000. We had to react quickly and now we function with new servers and new technical support. The fact is that many other media outlets have increased their attendance, but this trend of audience growth and retention suggests that in times of crisis people forget about light and unverified content and seek a credible source of information.
Third pattern: In times of crisis, we need the truth. We need authenticity and transparency, not beautified reality. In the first two weeks of the crisis, our Represent Communications not only did not experience a decline in business volume, but recorded a dynamic growth with some clients. Because during a crisis, you have to communicate. If you do not provide the necessary information, your clients and customers will find them through unverified or even malicious sources. If you do not organize enhanced communication with your employees, they will find the requested but unverified information through social networks or Viber. A crisis is a period where only through enhanced communication you can preserve all that you have built over the years, both in image and in real business.
Fourth pattern: Indirect, non-physical communication is our future. After the first shock and the adjustment to working remotely, this second week we have two educational trainings scheduled. Meetings are already held virtually, and we are witnessing the organization of long-distance conferences. We are all getting used to working indirectly without physical interaction and in the way our kids already socialize. Until yesterday, we laughed at teenagers for sitting in the same room but not communicating with each other because everyone was on their phones. Now we are functioning the same way, and it seems to me that many will think that physical contact is an overrated category! And just like in a webinar I listened to yesterday, a man held his training from his London flat and was pleased to say that otherwise he would’ve had to travel to Dubai for a lesser crowd. The mass media has taught us indirect communication, and the Corona will teach us that the organization of events can also be performed without physical presence. Welcome to virtual life part 2!