Is there a more hated word than the C-word these days? No, not that one! Tsk. We meant Covid.
We don’t know about you but here at Team Rev HQ, when we see it or hear it, we experience an almost visceral reaction. Be it dread, anxiety, fear or frustration – we’re betting almost everyone else does too in some form or another. It’s completely understandable. For the best part of two years, the pandemic dominated the media – mainstream, trade and franchise. And now, as the general public, we’re both hypervigilant and desensitised to the very mention of it in a bizarre juxtaposition.
What that means for many franchisors is that your audiences have what’s best described as media fatigue. Sick of hearing about the latest variant, tired of ‘bad news’, semi-sceptical about good. It’s a tricky situation when you’re trying to communicate with someone about making a potentially lifechanging investment. If these hits home then you may well wonder, ‘is there a solution?’ Of course there is – this would be a bit of a silly and self-destructive blog if there wasn’t.
In a nutshell (we like those)
You should have been navigating the status quo for the last two years anyway through your PR activity. If you haven’t, then getting back on track asap is vital. For the next 6-12 months your PR strategy needs to be weighted with value-add for your target audiences. It doesn’t actually matter whether those audiences are your prospective franchisees or your B2B/B2C end users. Talk about the future with realistic optimism, interpret national and sector-specific information in a way that people can understand and use to their advantage, and get back to celebrating the achievements of the extraordinary people within your brands. Simple, eh?
If you have a little more time, read on for some nitty gritty. If not… tata!
Devil’s in the detail
There are some subtle differences which, even though they’ve been emerging over time, have become truly ‘the norm’ when it comes to communicating with people these days. Firstly, with virtual and hybrid working very much standard and digital platforms more widely accepted than ever, your PR needs to be truly multi-purpose and suitable for a broad range of online and offline channels. And whilst it’s all well and good feeling confident you can meet people where they are with your content – what you are saying to them needs to be different too. Transparency, ethics, respect and responsibility are top of the agenda for consumers of all kinds. Make sure you’re hitting the mark. If you only think you know what your prospects want to hear or, worse, you’re telling them what YOU want them to hear, then you’re in danger of becoming white noise. Do some research and recalibrate.
Countless industries and the people within them are still experiencing the effects of the last two years, be that personally or professionally. Whilst we’re looking to move on, that doesn’t excuse being tone deaf. Messaging and themes may still need reviewing and tweaking to reflect the new consumer and economic landscapes. This applies to both sides of the coin. Being particularly pessimistic is never going to do anything but bring the energy of your audience down, which isn’t great for promoting action. Whereas blind optimism about the future which paints an unrealistic picture of what is achievable and feels disingenuous and patronising. Both will lead to disappointment. Basically, as a franchisor it’s important to have balance in your communications. It shows a level of maturity, honesty and respect for your audience (see above).
If you’ve ever read one of our blogs before you know we will always point out that PR, at its core, is about ensuring you are front of mind with credible, trustworthy and valuable content for your audiences. But if you’ve found yourself raking back over the last two years a little too often, this is your call to do an about-turn. It’s time to get back to leading with positive, tangible advice, guidance and stories that will instil confidence and inspire your prospects. Again, that doesn’t mean making wild claims and false promises – you can leave that to Number 10!
For example, if lockdown formed a key part of someone’s journey, perhaps they’d just launched or had to cease operations temporarily, by all means, include it. But try not to make it the focus of your PR anymore. Why not? Because, unusually, we’re reaching the point of ‘who didn’t’… face that challenge, suffer that emotional turmoil, and experience the financial difficulties. The very thing that connects us all can also become the thing that makes your message banal. Plus, you owe it to your network to celebrate their ongoing achievements as well as recognising the challenges of their past.
And finally, an apology
The irony of writing a piece about how we’re fed up of hearing about Covid, in which the 9th word is Covid, isn’t lost on us. Soz.