The Harbinger Group

Communicating During COVID: What’s Working for Us

COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives – especially our consumption of media. A recent Nielsen study indicated that consumer media consumption is projected to rise up to 60% due to quarantining and staying at home. This provides an incredible opportunity for brands to have significantly more opportunity to connect with their consumers. On the other hand, decreasing ad budgets are dramatically impacting the news industry – from newspaper closures across the country to widespread furloughs. The result? The remaining journalists are more strapped for time and resources than ever before.

So, how to maximize the opportunity of increased media consumption in a relevant and credible way? At THG, we have found the following four approaches work well well right now to gain the attention of news media and communicate brand messaging for our clients. 

We’re focusing on local angles.

Because each state – heck, each city – is handling this pandemic somewhat differently, we have found that local news angles are in high demand.

Union electrical contracting client Powering Chicago was recently interviewed on WVON 1690 AM  radio station and WGN Newsradio about their members continued work in the City of Chicago and Cook County during the pandemic. Powering Chicago spokesperson, IBEW Local 134 business manager Don Finn, was able to highlight key projects, such as converting McCormick Place convention center into a temporary medical facility that will house 3,000 beds. Additionally, Powering Chicago was able to highlight how the union is supporting out-of-work member electricians and union retirees during these uncertain times.

We’re finding ways for clients to be helpful.

Another way to remain relevant now is to find your meaningful way to be helpful. 

During the transition to virtual learning in mid-March, we helped our client Golden Apple, a non-profit dedicated to inspiring, developing and supporting Illinois school teachers and leaders, develop a digital repository of online learning resources for teachers, students and parents tasked with continuing education during the pandemic. Digital and social content pieces were leveraged to communicate the new resource and as a result the page quickly became one of the most visited on the Golden Apple website.

THG also secured Golden Apple’s participation in a webinar with Chalkbeat Chicago, a nonprofit news organization that focuses on education, called “Help with homeschooling: Join us for a virtual talk with Chicago teachers,” where experts shared homeschooling best practices and answered parents’ most pressing questions. By participating in this webinar, Golden Apple was able provide invaluable advice to parents and fellow teachers through the powerful Chalkbeat platform, in addition to strengthening ties with education partners in the Chicago community.

As an agency, THG also produced a working from home tips blog post  based on our team’s 17-years of experience succeeding as a fully-remote agency.

We’re offering a unique perspective.

In an era of uncertainty, we’re all looking for a perspective that will help us understand where we are and navigate where we are going.

First Command Financial Services conducted a study study focused specifically on military families and their financial security. Findings indicated that military families feel they will be significantly more financially affected by COVID-19 than the general population. THG was able to quickly secure coverage of the insights in Federal News Network, a source of key news, information, and analysis for people who support the mission of federal agencies, and on Norfolk’s 13 News Now, which included an interview with First Command’s CEO.

We’re pitching positive stories.

As the days get longer and less distinguishable, it can feel like this pandemic will never end. We all need some indication that we’re fighting the good fight and this includes journalists and our audiences. 

First Command Financial Services, a Fort Worth-based financial services firm, announced a comprehensive  COVID-19 relief program for clients from additional lines of credit to loan and payment assistance based on in-depth research of the top banks and competitors. This helped First Command offer strong support to their customers and stand out among their competition.

Good works don’t go unnoticed – especially during times of crisis. Focus on strengthening your relationships with your community, your customers, and your partners to build trust. And be sure to implement an effective integrated communication strategy to keep your key constituencies informed.