In today's highly challenging times, organisations across the board are searching for ways to streamline business operations, lower costs and effectively do more with a lot less.

This is the time for brands to stand out, to make themselves more memorable and build loyalty through small, human-centric engagements. How you interact with your customers now, will set the tone of your relationship with them for years to come.

The research speaks for itself and has consistently revealed that brands that maintain marketing efforts during times of crisis actually grow their sales and market share.

On the flip side, cutting spend has a lasting and negative impact on brands, who find themselves losing market share — even once the crisis has passed and things go back to normal.

During challenging times, many brands reduce their brand-building efforts and instead, channel efforts towards driving short-term sales. However, this isn't an appropriate response, as difficult times mean that brands should be focusing on building themselves in the long term.

This investment is what will drive and support recovery. It is human nature to remember brands for their acts of generosity and positivity during times of crisis. Brands need to evaluate their current projects and adjust them to see how they can be used in positive ways to uplift their communities — not simply for profit.

Behavioural economics has illustrated that framing is often more critical than messaging itself. No one is suggesting that brands should change their messaging or identity, but rather reframe them, to reflect their fundamental position within the context of the reality in which they find themselves.

Crisis, as tragic as it is, often gives brands the ideal opportunity to showcase their purpose and values. So, brands to dig deep and find ways to reach heart of what their audience is experiencing at the moment.

This does not in any way imply that brands should exploit the situation, but rather find ways where they can add value and help audiences during times of crisis. Any brand considering embarking on a PR initiative needs to be aware that false altruism will certainly backfire and send the message that it is trying to capitalise from a crisis.

Be genuine in both messaging and actions. Don't try to profit but try to help. Our current COVID-19 crisis is no different and is presenting opportunities for brands to innovate, adapt and help people around the world.

The bottom line is that now is not the time to do nothing, to panic, or to wait around nervously to see what your competitors are up to. Marketing in the time of COVID-19, or during any crisis for that matter, calls for brands to assess how they can service their customers as well as keep their businesses afloat.

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