Communications and public relations will have significant business impact after pandemic crisis – this mutual conclusion and a promising perspective created new partnership between two renowned agencies United Partners and Blumen Group, committed to the progress and success of their clients.
While exchanging experience during pandemic crisis, some conclusions were pointed out considering Serbian market:
- What have been the major communications challenges for your clients before COVID-19?
Our clients comes from public sector and commercial sector (we are very much involved in business development and communication strategies among small and medium enterprises, as well, as registered consultant by EBRD- European bank for reconstruction and development in Small Business Support project). Therefore we may say that:
- In Public sector major communications challenges before COVID-19 were: low budgets for communication, lack of continuous education among our colleagues that are employees in public institutions, and lack of sense for necessity of transparent communication with public, as well as strong political influence in media considering any kind of communication,
- Commercial sector – on the other hand – has another type of problem: lack of overall market regulation, insufficient knowledge and experience in market positioning among business owners and managing directors and strong perception that digital marketing in some way can resolve all marketing issues, although our population has quite low level of digital literacy. Also, not so many companies in Serbia have marketing and PR departments – it is usually one or two persons, and just a few of them are highly positioned between decision makers and board members.
- What have been the communications priorities over the last few weeks/months (during COVID-19)?
Crisis was so sudden in Serbia, and government measures and methods were very restrictive, so we had to act immediately with our clients. The biggest issues were:
- Remote work – since we had quarantine and curfew for almost two months,
- We had to speed up digitalization process in education (students and school children were learning online, from their home) in trading – shopping online became very popular and consequently both business and marketing and PR activities were implemented online, as well as all internal and external communication – for the first time in Serbia.
- Big challenges ware to modify communication strategies, to assume and respond to expectations that citizens and public had considering both crisis and our client’s communication.
- What companies/industries have done an outstanding job with either their internal or external communications during COVID-19? Any companies that have misstepped? If so, any guidance on how they can recover?
Industries that have already digitalized their work process and communications did a good job during the crises, as well as banks and some retails. For example – Sberbank and Lidl, as well as Donesi.com (deliver services). Many other companies misstepped – didn’t respond at all, or were just communicating promotions and sales discounts, so in our opinion, they will have to renovate both their communications and business strategies in a very close future.
- What will be the PR business impact of COVID-19 in the short and long term?
It became recognized during this COVID-19 crisis that communications are highly important – both internal and external, and we are almost sure that PR will finally have great business impact in future – at the first place it will be important to listen, recognize and understand new people needs, and after very challenging to communicate accordingly, especially choosing effective communication channels.
- What are the major communications challenges once the recovery begins?
Our perception is that recovery will not come and that we are entering new era of business development, society development and communications. COVID-19 will have huge economic impact, but even greater social impact by changing people habits, needs, expectations and ideas that they will stand for. So, challenges will be in listening and understanding market whispers, as well as fast forwarding, changing and tailoring not only communications strategies but also client’s products and services in future times.