The global pandemic has affected everyone and every business, regardless of location, industry, or size, some managing to shield the effects better than others. People had to cope not only with changes at work but also in their family, as the reverberations spanned across all areas of life.
But there was also a silver lining. The pandemic acted as a catalyst for change and an acid test for organizations’ ability to evolve and adapt to the transforming business and social environment. This resulted in the acceleration of digitalization across many industries, even amongst the most traditional companies. Many areas of life and work that could move online have indeed done so, from remote working, online shopping to live streaming of music and cultural events. Things that didn’t seem possible before happened or accelerated during this time.
A trigger for change
Although people are hard-wired to prefer consistency and stability, we have proven over and again that we can adapt and evolve. We can redesign what is normal, to suit our new circumstances. Coupled with a natural curiosity, we can find creative and innovative ways to solve problems from the most unfortunate moments, challenging ourselves to achieve things we never expected to. Renowned author Jared Diamond says in ‘Upheaval’ (2019) that change is inevitable and the way to cope with it is to first recognize there is a crisis, rather than try to deny it, then follow a process of self-appraisal and adaptation.
Contrary to popular belief, limitations and boundaries help us be more creative, find new angles and new purposes for common things. Navi Radjou, speaker and writer on frugal innovation, celebrates human creativity in his extensive talks on how boundaries and scarce resources can inspire people to overcome perceived limitations to achieve more.
In communications, the sudden postponement of all in-person media events led to a rethinking of their purpose, audience, and delivery. Instead of cancelling these opportunities, we redesigned them. There were, of course, many questions on whether these events would deliver a consistent and on-brand experience, or whether the audience would still be as hooked as they would have otherwise been in a more traditional setting.
How we redesigned brand communications during COVID-19 at H+K Thailand
Here, at H+K Thailand, we worked with our clients to prioritize their brand communication needs and strategize the best solutions, allowing for fully immersive brand experiences, while maintaining social distancing and other safety guidelines.
No more in-person events? We moved online. Small media groups instead of big press conferences? We designed customized experiences and exclusive interviews. Luncheon with the MD? We had the food home delivered to our media friends in branded lunch boxes. New product launch? A truly immersive live streaming session was put together. We knew that, with virtual media events, brands would relinquish their full control over their audience’s experience. A hybrid in-person and online event should cater to the experiences of both audiences alike, without compromising on any. From cancelled events, our team was inspired to create more meaningful experiences, innovative, memorable and truly customized for our clients’ audiences.
Some examples include Microsoft’s annual press briefing, delivered through a hybrid in-person and online media session, or the media visit organized for UNIQLO’s Ines de le Fressange Fall/Winter 2020 collection launch, with the help of a mobile showroom, which brought the collection and the UNIQLO models to Tier 1 fashion media, to everyone’s delight. Such successful examples show that limitations can indeed boost our creativity and lack of resources make us much more resourceful, and we are proud of what we’ve achieved.
Moreover, turbulent times can lay the foundation for new service offerings, to suit the changing business environment and meet the growing client demands. Such an example is the COVID-19 Intelligence and Advisory Team, launched to help businesses navigate the post-COVID-19 environment.
Always in Beta
In today’s changing and competitive environment, communications can only thrive with creativity and experimentation. At Hill+Knowlton Strategies Thailand, we always strive to continue to transform ourselves and to explore new and creative ways to achieve our clients’ communication objectives. Change will continue to happen. Our legacy is strong and our vision for the future is clear. We’re Always in Beta.
Want to read more? Check our article on Communications in the Next Normal.