A crisis is not the time to scrimp on comms

A good communications professional is largely invisible. Their work is almost always done behind the scenes. This is understandable, but also means hard work often goes uncelebrated.

Since no one else is likely to do it, allow us to offer a round of applause to comms teams around the country after what was most likely the most hectic eight weeks of their professional lives.

Woman working from home_COVID19.May2020

Audience figures released last week showed Australians have never consumed more online news than they did in March. Streem data featured on ABC Media Watch showed coronavirus occupied 80 per cent of the news cycle, and a large portion of those stories had a communications professional involved.

As Chief Customer Officer at Streem my team has been busy servicing the needs of comms teams with realtime media monitoring, many of them on the frontline of the coronavirus response. We’ve witnessed an unprecedented appetite for media intelligence, particularly from government departments at the centre of the economic and health response, as well as the nation’s leading airlines, banks, retailers, insurers and telcos.

COVID-19 has been such a rapidly evolving story. A highly compressed news cycle, with consecutive (almost hourly) press conferences, has required customers to synthesise and respond to new information in record time. Comms teams have been the linchpin between time-poor journalists and time-poor executives all reacting at breakneck speed to a once-in-a-generation crisis. And often they’ve been co-ordinating these responses from the kitchen table. Many people have been WFH of course, but comms teams have the added challenge of juggling large numbers of stakeholders to meet tight deadlines. And their output is more visible than most.

The fact they have been working flat strap is borne out by Streem’s platform data. We saw key government clients consuming 50 per cent more media in March than a normal month. Engagement data on our platform also showed particularly high growth in out-of-hours activity, with customers spending more time monitoring and analysing media between 12am-2am and 6am-9am.

Interestingly, while our mobile app is a big strength for us in market, we’ve actually found desktop traffic spike slightly more. We think that’s because, as people began working from home, they already had their laptops set up and were logging in at various hours. We’ve also recorded increased client engagement with our advanced features - no doubt a byproduct of people having more time at home to test and tweak functionality.

Now, we can see COVID-19 “news fatigue” setting in. Faced with continual changes in the domestic and global impacts of coronavirus, many customers have been forced to focus on their individual sectors rather than try to track the entire conversation.

There are also many companies facing up to new budget challenges. As staff who bring in no direct revenue, comms teams could be seen as vulnerable. But companies would do well to reflect on the events of the past two months before targeting communications. In many ways, the coronavirus story is just beginning. As organisations negotiate the downturn and (hopefully) re-emerge out the other side, effective communication - with staff, shareholders and customers - will never be more important.

Nina_Harriott.Senior-Account-Manager-CCOStreem-12 May 2020

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