The outbreak of coronavirus continues to affect the global economy, and no one can be sure when the epidemic will end, and when commercial activities will return to normal. However, in this crisis, business communication has found a bright opportunity from the bleak of the economy.
In the past two weeks, the keyword “dragon fruit bread” yields 25.1 million within 0.57 seconds on Google search engine. Behind this phrase is a series of free advertorials for a new product line of a bakery brand in Ho Chi Minh City. The headlines appeared one after the other, such as “People in Ho Chi Minh City lined up for hundreds of meters to buy dragon fruit bread”, “Long queues for dragon fruit bread”, Long queues to buy dragon fruit bread in Saigon”… showed that the media storm unintentionally polished the name of the business.
The story begins with this business’s owner, who found a recipe for making bread from dragon fruits right during the corona epidemic, which caused tons of Vietnamese dragon fruits unable to export. Curiosity about this new product and the desire to join hands to help Vietnamese agricultural products both contributed to promoting the business of this confectionery business.
In another case, a food import-export company “rescued” watermelon, which was unable to be sold during the Covid-19 epidemic, by introducing the new watermelon rice noodles and exporting the first batch to South Korea. The company used more than five tons of watermelon for the first testing. The company also told the press that it will continue to introduce other products with similar ideas, including rice paper, phở, noodles, and bean vermicelli. This is not the first time that innovative products combined with Vietnamese agricultural products have received positive feedback, especially in the economic crisis like the current epidemic.
These two examples show that businesses are seeking to promote their brands in the middle of an epidemic season that is raging from Asian countries to Europe.
The hidden chances for business communications during crisis
Dr. Clāra Ly-Le, Managing director of EloQ Communications commented: “Risky situations come with opportunity.” She said many businesses have utilized the current circumstances to promote their businesses by creating positive content for their customers. For example, many businesses used internal communications and adjusted daily work routine to create a good impression on stakeholders. Specifically, Apple announced on January 29 that they would conduct daily temperature checks on their staff. This action showcased Apple’s concerns and appreciation toward employees’ well-being, which in turns generated positive images for the company. Other corporations such as Amazon and Facebook restricted their employees from traveling to China and took measures to ensure employee health and safety.
Businessmen and corporations across the globe are also joining hands to fight against the nCoV pneumonia. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contributed US$10 million to support outbreak response in China and Africa, half of which went toward the nCoV vaccine research.
In France, LVMH, the owner of luxury brands Christian Dior, Fendi, and Celine, donated US$ 2.3 million to help China fights against the epidemic. Kering, another luxury fashion corporation who owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga also donated US$1 million to China. Francois Pinault, the billionaire founder of Kering, said: “Our thoughts are with the many impacted by the novel coronavirus outbreak, and therefore we have decided to donate the funds as an immediate contribution to assist.”
The sport wears provider Anta Sports sent US$1.4 million to the China Charity Federation (CCF), which provides medical supplies to the coronavirus epicenter Hubei Province. Some large US technology corporations, such as Microsoft and Dell, also gave their support toward China by funding US$150,000 and US$300,000 to the Red Cross Society of China, respectively. The money will be used to support medical teams in the most heavily affected epicenters of the outbreak.
Previously, Chinese companies also donated tens of millions of US dollars. The richest man in China, Jack Ma, contributed US$14 million to help treat patients and find a vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus. Alibaba Group alone set up an anti-epidemic fund worth US$144 million to help hospitals in Wuhan purchases essentials medical equipment. Baidu, Tencent or ByteDance (the mother company of Tik Tok) aided US$115 million to provide treatments and support researches on the vaccine. Huawei also contributed a portion to help Wuhan City build the Huoshenshan Hospital…
Upon such noble acts, communications professionals assessed that charity activities, CSR, funding for research and treatment during this period would gain more attention than normal since the corona pandemic is already at the top of the mind of the community. Keywords related to coronavirus are leading on search engines. Depending on their positioning, some businesses will remain silent during this sensitive time as giving inappropriate information would create backlash, while other businesses that choose to speak up and generate positive images in the eyes of customers.
Although there is no official summary of how the coronavirus war has impacted business media growth, the global press has contributed to promoting the names of the corporations. According to Dr. Ly-Le: “During this sensitive time, any information, good or bad, will amplify many times because people continuously follow any news related to the coronavirus incident. Therefore, if companies choose to create opportunities for themselves at this time, they need to apply the main principles in PR: ‘Content is King’ and ‘Authenticity is also King.’ That means they must carefully choose what message to deliver, and how to communicate it properly, as well as how to make people see the authenticity in all activities or announcements they make in the present time.”
Author Vi Mai is a PR Manager of EloQ Communications. She has had more than 10 years of experience in journalism and social marketing. She is also a planner for key projects at EloQ, including the media events for Ferrari and Blancpain, the two luxury brands aforementioned.
EloQ Communications is a leading agency in public relations (PR) and integrated marketing communications (IMC) based in Ho Chi Minh City. EloQ has experience in cooperating with foreign companies doing business in Vietnam, including many diverse customers from more than 30 countries and territories, including Fortune 500 companies, many multinational corporations and domestic companies.