If we have learned anything from the pandemic, it is the value of the communications function as a strategic discipline for business survival and brand resilience.  Customer centricity, humanity and corporate social responsibility are no longer a nice-to-have. It is not a strategic choice but a business survival technique.  Regardless of industry sector, the end user holds the key to a brand’s relevance and reputation. Communicators have had to work around the clock to support their organization and stay ahead of a constantly moving situation.

Public relations professionals say they have been providing extra value during COVID-19, but they are grappling with burnout and stress.  Nobody knows what the post-pandemic reality will look like. What we do know is that things will never go back to the way they were. The COVID-19 re-set is not just a moment for brands to serve an immediate need, but to create a way to build deeper, longer-lasting, and more meaningful relationships with all stakeholders through effective communications.

“Around the world, its countries and markets are now planning and testing their exit strategies from lockdown.  Navigating unchartered waters, the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way companies need to communicate with their stakeholders.” explains Abdullah Inayat, Co-Founder and Director of W7Worldwide. “As Communicators, we must support business, governments, and organizations to come up with solutions and help drive them forwards.”

W7Worldwide formulated its ‘7 Communications Lessons from COVID-19’ Guide to summarize the key learnings the agency has identified as a result of the pandemic to impact PR and Communications Practitioners.  The most important lesson learned was the need for a resilient brand that can withstand market stress and crises.  In the new normal, corporate, social and environmental responsibility are a core component of brand resilience. Internal Communicators have had to step into overdrive to guide employees through the still ongoing changes.

Media relations has changed, with both industry and consumer media outlets craving reliable information and advice on how to navigate the path forward in uncertain times. The brands that are active now with thought leadership and creative content will secure the best position to rebound.  At a time when governments depend on the continued cooperation of the corporate sector to help manage the ongoing demands of COVID-19, companies need to be proactive with their Public Affairs efforts.

Communicators must use digital to move towards customers and engage them directly with personalised content at multiple moments across the customer journey.  Almost half of the marketers that work in MENA use influencer marketing and 94% find it successful for their brand’s marketing. An influencer marketing campaign should be specifically designed to the region’s culture and tastes.

To anticipate the changing world we live in, PR Practitioners of tomorrow must be educated, multi-disciplined, creative, and strategic thinkers.  W7Worldwide proactively engages in elevating the profession in the Kingdom, the GCC and MENA region and internationally.  The agency set up its dedicated COVID-19 Resource Centre as a timely and important resource for communicators and business leaders to help steer them safely through the crisis.

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