Research reveals that thoughtful, strategic communication can actually minimise the short and long-term financial and reputational impact on a business. And it appears that businesses thriving during the pandemic are those that are constantly engaging with their customers.

This is because during economic upheaval, personalised, authentic communication is what should drive all business activities.

It is vital that businesses understand the behavioural, psychological and emotional traits of their customers. It is not uncommon to respond to difficulties with silence, yet we cannot ignore the pandemic.

That being said, it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd when other brand messages sound the same. And currently, the language of many brands is empathic, cautious and repetitive.

In a sea of sameness, marketing and communications is about helping brands walk their talk. Companies have captive audiences watching, listening and tuning in. Now is the time to embrace your brand identity because — regardless of what language is used — people feel the disconnect between what companies say and what they actually do.

For instance, certain businesses have recently come under fire during the pandemic for awarding their management teams bonuses, while retrenching staff simultaneously.

According to a study from Deloitte, when a major crisis occurs, there's an immediate impact on reputation, perception and market value. What you say and do matters and consistent, reliable and authentic communication is a big part of that. 

Here are five ways that integrated communication creates stability:

1. It allows you to see beyond social media

When a crisis arises, consistency creates authenticity. When your audience is consuming what you say and do across many digital platforms, consistency, flow and repetition is critical.

2. It helps you to integrate, inform and stay authentic

Sincerity is one of the most sought-after sentiments in an economy desperately trying to catch its bearings. Don't be afraid to show you care with your words and your actions.

3. It encourages you to embrace your brand identity

Communication helps you to know your audience. The quality of your communication will improve and you'll build brand loyalty.

4. It opens doors for content curation

Communication is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is important to repurpose content and reshare it to reach the right audience.

5. It helps to take better advantage of technology

Data, when used effectively, is a powerful tool. Find meaningful data points to create compelling stories that elicit action. In a crisis, you have to engage customers emotionally and intellectually.

In his latest book Reset Rebuild Reignite, Pavlo Phitidis talks about turning a company into an 'asset of value'. Phitidis explains how understanding your audience requires knowledge of that segment's psychographics: "These talk to the psychology of the people or businesses you are trying to reach. How do they behave, how do they think, and how do they buy your product or service?"

Phitidis says that aiding communications to be more effective and efficient should be key; "During the COVID-19 lockdown, the inability to communicate hurt many businesses. It was assumed that the shutdown would be short and sharp, and preparations were not made."

When your environment changes, so should your integrated content marketing and communications strategy. For businesses, the challenge lies in integrated communication, that which brings genuine sincerity, compassion and humanity to the table.

As long as you're consistent, you'll build reputational resilience; but to win you need to connect marketing and communications to your business outcomes and engage that appropriately. Steering authentic and aligned conversations is just one in many steps to helping businesses succeed and grow. 

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