When the ‘change is the only constant’ mantra first hit the headlines in the era of Greek philosophers they weren’t kidding. Reinvention rather than change perhaps, in current times.

So for those of us who work in the food and drink sector, the Wild West team have pulled together a weekly digest of best practice considerations to have front of mind.  It’s not necessarily full answers driven, but is certainly about raising the right questions.

Specifically at the moment this means:

  • Thinking about relationships of value and showing ‘live’ consumer understanding
  • Paying it forward and finding ways to empower others as part of commercial success
  • Working the social media therapy channels with the right tone at a time of high reliance
  • Aligning with the current media appetite

Key words? Nimble. Listening. Helping.

Think relationships

Now is not the time to communicate less, but to communicate more of the right thing.

Short time sales might be whats-on-the-shelf dependent but this is a strong time to move from product storytelling to bringing the brand to life for the long term, and showing you both understand and care about your audience and their world.  That’s the stuff of long term relationships, doing clever things that will make a difference.

And not for obvious commercial reasons (see all our personal inboxes with examples of wrongly pitched offer led comms), but to highlight how your brand can be useful and generous in tough times. On the bigger scale this is Joe Wicks and his morning TV workouts. Or influencer and chef Jack Monroe’s Lock Down larder daily social media advice. As a brand, Brewdog’s virtual bar network is a strong example of reading the community need and feeding it in line with its brand values to make people smile.

Customers are pretty future focused and need reassurance from those they trust and like on every level in life. And they will remember things, especially whatever will help them break the monotony of lockdown.

Pay it Forward

Purpose driven comms was already the mantra for the year, in the decade of delivery that we are in, before the isolation period took over.

If you are selling well and ahead of the curve, think more than ever how your success can benefit more people. How can customers buying your products pay that forward? How can your success, partnered with consumer empowerment, benefit the elderly neighbours, the key workers, the self-isolating, or the smaller business in trouble?

Consumers are looking for how they can contribute more, from the small but life affirming clap for the NHS call out,  through to the knowledge that what you buy will unlock something good for others.

Budweiser’s ‘Save Pub Life’ campaign is encouraging customers to buy a pub gift card now for future beer drinking, but where all the money earned will go the pubs which are shut right now, with Bud match funding all the money spent.

Asda’s £5M donation to food waste charity Fareshare is an important message to other brands that pulling back on sharing surplus foods to meet retail demand instead will cause significant impact on the most needy.

Social media therapy

With front doors to the world shut, interaction with and reliance on digital channels to break the boredom are on the increase. More time to fill (for influencers, for brands who aren’t advertising, and for consumers), more positivity sought, more content to share.

It requires stop and check reviews on all content you have planned of course for visuals, tone and message. But retooling what you are doing to be more solution led is a core pillar you have to introduce.

It is also entirely permissible to balance important messages around health, taste and inspiration with humour, joy and fun. We need that. News channels are seeing record viewing figures for the important stuff, and it’s where to separate facts from rumour and scaremongering. Social is the escape room, the chance to have fresher dialogue, and the chance to find things to ‘do’ beyond the boxset.

See Innocent’s and Oatly’s empathic humour on their insta channels for example, or the helping add food advice from Yeo Walley and Pret. Whilst TikTok as a channel is hosting a week of influencer livestreams called #HappyAtHome, which will feature popular TikTok creators giving motivational talks, dance lessons, and other quarantine content every night.

Media appetite

Magazine Journalists are still working on future issues on their usual 2-3 month ahead deadline, so ‘news’ for them is not being switched off.

Media in general are of course now multimedia brands, so there is room for useful and generous/helpful digital content to land on their digital sites, as long as is tailored for the current world.

And national media tell us they are looking for sparks of positivity: stories that inspire others, that show how the mechanics of businesses are changing to match consumer wants and needs, that are clever in the way brands are reacting, or that are working to deliver a call to action or unify the at home nation. As with all purpose and cause work, it is totally permissible to share the good work done as long as it comes from the right place, is designed to make an actual difference and ideally allows consumers to play their own part in any initiative

Which bring us back to the beginning: the need for nimble/fast ‘what if…’ conversations; the realignment of ad spend perhaps into more live storytelling channels; and more than ever thinking customer first in all initiatives that comes from plenty of listening.

To get involved in one of our free PR and social media clinics please email jade.obrien@wildwestcomms.co.uk who will book you in.