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Graphics and infographics have never been more been more important for branding and for saving lives. Social distancing for blog

Infographics are easy to consume and remember — as long as they tell a good, clear story. Will all the information being pumped out about COVID-19 it’s important to be simple and universal.

When I say universal, I mean using metaphor we all understand to illustrate a story. A friend of mine is a physician who reports on TV regularly about COVID-19. He said yesterday, “Think if all the traffic accidents for one year happened in Iowa happened in one day. Medically, we would be overwhelmed. That is a little of what we are trying to prevent with social distancing and sheltering in place.” We all get the concept of traffic accidents, but we had not thought about them all happening in one day. A perfect way to get his message across. That would have made a powerful infographic.

I’m pretty sure grocery stores and toilet paper manufacturers are seeing a bump in sales because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the largest increase may be in TV viewership.3d illustration: red vintage TV with blue virus cell on the screen on white background. The concept of escalating the situation at media by internet broadcasting, mobile video blogs and podcasts.

According to Nielsen data analysis, media consumption rises by nearly 60%. There is also an increase of 61% in streaming video. Consumers who live a quarantine lifestyle tend to watch news, featured films or general programming.

Nielsen based its conclusions on TV usage during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and the Northeastern blizzard of 2016. Nielsen also discovered that TV viewing among employees who worked remotely was higher than in-office workers. Remote workers watched three hours more each week than in-office workers.

These results are based on past disasters and are not current numbers. Those numbers will be coming out shortly. People in quarantine for weeks on end will drive new viewing levels never seen before.

Disney took advantage of the increased viewing and moved up the release date of “Frozen 2.” Disney closed its parks, but Mickey is still a strategic marketer.

So what are we doing while we are at home? It may seem obvious to you, but we are watching television (linear TV and streaming) and we are the internet in huge numbers.

Covid VPN usage

As the number of cases climb, so does the internet. I do think the increase in the US without as many cases could be because we are not getting the information we need through other sources. VPN stands for Virtual Private Networks and it basically provides greater privacy and security on the web.

Just look at the rapid increase in VPN usage for Italy as the COVID-19 cases increased. In the case of Italy, each new case sends more people home and more on the internet. In the US, we are hungry for information and are sheltering in place and that place is home with our laptops and phones at the ready.

If you are looking for large audiences on TV and on the internet, now is the time.

If you’re like me, your email is filling up with messages from businesses and organizations. The airlines have been the most active.Delta email

Many seem heartfelt and provide good information, while others seem to be prescheduled or insensitive to the situation. Some don’t even mention the current situation. One I received from a local gym was still talking about a March Madness promotion and featured basketballs. (Sorry, all canceled a week ago.) I received this email the same day the president suggested people avoid being too close. Yet the email offered classes, massages and group activities. Later that same day, the gym sent out a virus-related email — I’m sure people complained. Mac Madness

When I was in TV, the consultants always said, “You can’t gain any viewers during election night, but you sure can lose viewers.” I believe the same thinking applies to disasters like floods and pandemics (unfortunately, I’ve now been through both). You may not be able to gain any new clients, stakeholders or donors, but you can sure lose a few because of poor messaging or insensitivity to the situation.

Communication is the key when faced with challenges. You need to communicate with outside stakeholders, but also with your employees. We suggest a few techniques in these troubled times:

  • Podcasts can be produced and posted without group activities.
  • Facebook Live can still be used for events, meetings and announcements. We did a multi-camera shoot for a fundraising event that had 150 viewers.
  • Video can be a great way to release information, send out notices and talk to your customers.
  • Micro-websites can be put up quickly just to deal with the virus, so you don’t change your entire website.
  • Weekly or biweekly one-page newsletters could be mailed to customers, stakeholders or donors as long as they contain pertinent information.
  • Public service-styled TV commercials (viewership is way up) that talk directly to the audience and acknowledge that you know what is going on and you’re still working hard.

Messaging is critical. Pay attention to everything that is going out to the public, but don’t overthink it and delay too long. Late communications may be worse than no communications — unless you are thinking about running anything to do with canceled events.

 

This is serious. I’m not making light of the issues, the sickness, deaths or economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis. However, if you look at it from a different messaging orientation, the crisis looks a lot different.Covid 19 Cases and Recovery

When people ask me what public relations is all about, I simply answer “messaging.” Take a look at this chart. It is different from what you’ll see on CNN or FOX. Those two networks need to generate excitement (good or bad) to acquire and keep viewers. You can report deaths all day long. Yet statista selected another data point to consider, and that is recoveries. See how it changes the narrative. Recoveries will always trail cases because many people are still sick and are in the process of recovering.

Today, public relations is so much more than press releases and press relations (still important), but messaging touches all aspects of your business, from employees to your largest customers or donors.

For those of us looking for more comforting news in these times of mixed-messages on the crisis, the top line (cases in China) is flattening.

Starting today, all U.S. households will begin receiving official U.S. Census Bureau mail. You may yawn at that, but this is seriously important to marketers.US_Census2020_Logos.-

Even for an agency like AMPERAGE (with marketing and fundraising), this is a critically important tool that must be accurate. Every market/marketing plan we conduct, every demographic profile and every research project depends on census data.

Yes, our communities get allocated federal dollars based on the census, but for business and nonprofit organizations, the census helps us build strategies, plan expansions, offer more targeted services and better understand customers or stakeholders. Not to mention that our entire representative democracy is based on census data — it ensures each community gets the right number of representatives in government.

April 1 is not April Fool’s Day; it is Census Day. By this date, every home will have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone or by mail. Sounds too easy, but more than 20% will not fill it out. So they will need to be approached in person, which is extremely expensive.

You count so be counted. Turn in your census form today. Your local agency is depending on you.

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s campaign is paying social media influencers to inundate Instagram with messages. The campaign is reported to be offering social media influencers $150 to create content that tells why Bloomberg is “electable,” according to The Daily Beast.

Horowitz-Very-Important-Purchase-Influencers-Feb2020

Influencers are defined as people with 1,000 to 100,000 Instagram followers. The influencer market or peer market is growing as a worthy marketing audience. According to Horowitz Research, there is a growing “power of peers” on the internet. Yet information on a company’s website is also critically important (not just to search engine robots).

Ads appear to be low on the scale behind peer marketing and video, but it is important to note that the research showed good ads often get shared. Thirty-two percent say they “frequently or occasionally share ads they enjoy with others.”

Also worth noting from this research is the importance of video as a purchase influencer. “Unpacking videos” are video of people taking a product out of the packaging and talking about the product.

The idea of paid influencers/peers is the wild west of marketing. It is for certain going to be more regulated in the future. For now, influencers will continue to influence. Surprisingly, word of mouth advertising — is that traditional or old-world marketing? — has been around since the dawn of civilization and is still a strong, viable marketing technique. One we all should pay attention to.

At least that is what I’ve heard.