COVID-19 Issue Insight Series | View as a PDF
Who it impacts
Companies and businesses of all sizes and sectors | Professionals responsible for brand or enterprise communications | CMOs, CCOs
What we see
– More than 7 in 10 members of the informed public* want companies to actively communicate about “COVID-19 specific responses”
– 96% believe companies should actively communicate about their COVID-19 response – companies have permission to speak
– 89% expect action from drug makers on COVID-19, and 72% say they’re rooting for these companies – expectations are high
– 45% want to know what a business is doing to meet growing needs during the pandemic – particularly actions authentic to a business
– Nearly 60% say it’s critical for companies to consistently keep the public informed, regardless of channel – it doesn’t matter if they hear this information in a news story or an advertisement
– 86% of likely voters say they are reading/following the news in print or online 5 times per week or more, a rate that exceeds the norm – exposure to news and messaging is at a sustained high
– Only 7% are open to hearing advertising that seems to be from a time before the COVID-19 crisis began in the U.S. – advertising is OK, but self-promotional messaging is not
What it means
We’re in the middle of an intense crisis, and while attention may wane over time, the urgency of need will remain as consistent as high expectations of corporate action. Making the ground more treacherous for companies is that the informed public believes life will get back to normal much sooner than is likely; that a vaccine will be discovered and then available unrealistically quickly; and that the economy will be humming in the near future.
Companies must be prepared to stay in this fight for the long haul, and for public opinion to grow increasingly frustrated over time. Those that commit now to building a stronger future for their industry, their communities, and their employees will have a much greater chance of weathering storms if and when the pandemic persists, recession sets in, and political tension grows.
The companies that commit and invest in real action will be among the few seen as essential to the future success of an increasingly linked global community.
What you should do about it
First, companies have to be in the arena. Now is not an acceptable time to be on the sidelines of societal impact. Corporate Purpose has been a hot topic for years and hit a peak with the Business Roundtable in 2019. Now is the time for companies to put their money where their mouth is, not just with donations but with how they operate in the day-to-day, every day – certainly throughout this current crisis, but likely beyond as well.
Second, the question is not if a business should be communicating about its efforts (they should), but how to walk the line between seeking credit for vs. building credibility through its actions? Companies have to be comfortable contributing to the greater good and not getting a pat on the back right now. That means thinking long term and as if actions a company takes now and in the coming weeks and months will define who a company is for the next decade.
And finally, companies have to be okay with not selling something for a while, probably a long while. This is not a time for a focus on moving product, no matter how subtle or skillful the execution.
Purple Pulse Survey of Likely Voters. N=400. May 2-3, 2020.
Purple Pulse Survey of US Opinion Elites. N=804. April 17-20, 2020.
Purple Pulse Survey of the US Informed Public. N=1,006. March 20-25, 2020.
By Nate Byer | Managing Director | firstname.lastname@example.org
Purple is actively partnering with companies and industries to navigate the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for the future that will come after, bringing deep experience helping the world’s best-known companies navigate the world’s toughest challenges. Please reach out to author Nate Byer or any member of our Purple team to let us know how we can support you.