Blog by Theo and Ruth

Walk the talk in times of crisis

There are many ways in which brands communicate. They use advertising, which is a powerful tool. Sponsorship of sport, and other large-scale events, such as mega concerts, if leveraged properly, yield great returns on investment.

But in a time of crisis, such as now, with the world, it seems to some, almost shutting down, people clamour for information about the virus, and how you are communicating with them about it, rather than be attracted to the latest advertising fad.

In times of crisis such as Covid19, you need to walk the talkBut the most important form of communication has always been to “walk the talk”. It still is. Especially now. It means your brand and its promises can be believed.

At this time of crisis in the world, one would therefore think that every brand is practising what it preaches. And if it does not preach the message of staying healthy by applying the basis hygenic standards recommended by experts the world over, it should embrace these norms immediately.

Thus when you walk into a pharmacy, of all places, you expect sanitiser to be available at the entrance, and to be compelled to use it. Gloves and masks should be worn by the staff, if only to give comfort to their customers. Surfaces should be cleaned before and after every customer has been served. Yet some outlets of a well known pharmaceutical brand in South Africa are brazenly ignoring these standards, in spite of customer pleas not to do so. By doing so, they are implicitly saying that they don’t care. In the face of this unsafe behaviour (observed a day ago), this particular brand has stepped up its radio advertising to teach the public safety standards!

This need to “walk the talk” applies to government departments, as well as any business dealing face-to-face with customers, as well as religious organisations. If a small supermarket on the high street of one of Johannesburg’s residential suburbs can do it – as was observed this morning – so can every national chain, with their vastly larger resources, do so.

Walk the talk – that will be your advertising and marketing communication strategy that will see you through this tough time.It's important for brands to walk the talk in times of crisis, such as #Covid19

“See” the reader

Visualise your reader when you writeThe last tip on writing effectively in business: #Visualise your #reader. Billionaire Warren Buffett gets the right balance in his reports by writing for his sisters, Doris and Bertie – intelligent people, but not experts. (HBR, Mike Reed)

It’s all about the benefits

Tip 5 about #effective_writing in business: Focus on #benefitsFocus on the benefits, rather than the features of the product to people. Eg, “Keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer, thanks to its cotton-merino blend” works a lot better than “A luxurious cotton-merino blend fabric”. (Tips from HBR, Mike Reed)

To the point!

Effective writing in business gets quickly to the pointTip 4: Get to the point. Think like a #journalist – what’s the most important thing you need to say? Identify it, and put that first. Busy people need to get the point upfront. (Tips from HBR by Mike Reed, Reed Words, London)

Write for busy people

Use infographics and other aids to help people read quicklyTip 3: Recognise that your audience #skim-reads by glancing at a screen, picking out words and sentences. Use features like #sub-heads, #bullets, #diagrams, #infographics and #tables to help their understanding. (HBR review)

Don’t let your readers fall asleep

Cut the jargon to write effectively in businessTip 2 in our series on effective business writing: Choose short and more familiar words. Long, complicated words and sentences confuse readers. Cut the jargon! These tips are shared from an HBR paper (Mike Reed of Reed Words, London)

Tips to avoid a switch off

Writing well – and communicating effectively – is a critical skill for all in business. In the next few posts, we’ll share tips from a Harvard Business Review about how to write without boring your audience.

Use first person (I, we) to avoid stiff formality in your writingTip 1: Talk like a human, not a business. One way of avoiding stiff formality is to write in the first person. So, instead of: “Jones and Jones is a residential agent offering customers friendly, clear and straightforward advice”, say: “We’ll give you the clear, friendly home-buying advice you need.”

Next post: Avoid complexity