Does Your Business Graph Get Down Due To Pandemic?

Since the outbreak of novel Coronavirus, a persistent wave of fear and anxiety runs through everyone. While countries fear a bad economic slowdown coupled with the recession, enterprises across various sectors are grappling to minimize the business losses. With its far-reaching consequences, it remains unclear how worst the impact will be on the industry and global economy. 

The global pandemic has caused the greatest global disruption leading to travel bans and restrictions, market crash, and cancellation of events and conferences worldwide. Though swift actions are being taken across the globe to mitigate the development of a full-blown pandemic, it appears that we will have to wait to see visible results. With the global health emergency affecting industries like IT, FMCG, Travel, and Hospitality, communication has become key for all businesses to stay connected with their customers and stakeholders. Public Relations firms have become crucial at the time of the pandemic crisis. 

Communication services are a business-critical need especially during a public health crisis like coronavirus pandemic. Companies that don’t communicate with their customers and stakeholders in the current situation will be committing a mistake as it is important to make them feel safe and supported through consistent and empathetic communication. 
Let’s first explore the impact of coronavirus on various industrial sectors.

Travel and Tourism
According to CII, this is one of the worst crises ever to hit the Indian tourism industry impacting all its geographical segments - inbound, outbound and domestic, almost all tourism verticals - leisure, adventure, heritage, MICE, cruise, corporate and niche segments.

The travel industry that relies on human movement to function, is witnessing the hardest times with many companies close to shutdown. With the sector coming to a near-complete stop, companies fear the impact to be worse than recession. What adds to this fear is the uncertainty of how long the situation will last. However, domestic travel is expected to rise post lockdown because people will avoid traveling to tourist destinations like Europe and America for quite a long time now. 

Digital Payments
Digital payments is one of the few sectors which is witnessing growth amidst the pandemic. In a move to reduce social contact, various Banks and Insurance companies in India are promoting Digital Payments. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has launched its #IndiaPaySafe campaign as it urges Indians to use Digital Payments in a bid to reduce social contact.

Companies in co-working sector are bearing the brunt of the pandemic impact as work from home remains the only solution and a new normal. However, this slowdown is temporary. A sector which has been growing at an exponential growth rate year-on-year will continue to grow at a slower pace. The sector is expected to witness a positive impact in the long run as major enterprises will shift to shared workspaces than investing in long term contracts or separate workspaces because of financial crunch and fear of uncertainty.
Besides, there are some sectors that have remained unscathed from the impact of the virus outbreak yet. 

According to experts, remote work and the need to quarantine amidst lockdown are expected to boost data usage in the home broadband and mobile space in India. The lockdown is expected to aid the telecom sector as Indians consume more data.

The impact of coronavirus has so far been limited on Indian healthcare. A move by Government to spend nearly Rs 10,000 crore to encourage companies to manufacture pharmaceutical ingredients domestically is additionally assisting the sector.

Since the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India has asked insurers to cover coronavirus cases in their existing policies and ensure that they expeditiously attend to the claims, the impact is expected to be low compared to other segments.

Why are PR and Communication Even More Crucial in the Present Scenario? 
Amidst the pandemic crisis and lockdown, counseling clients and helping them with their external and internal communications has become significant for consultancies. Many companies across various sectors are seeking support from PR firms to ensure that contingency plans are in place for their campaigns because only Public Relations has the ability to communicate in real-time. 
In the lockdown period, PR is being even more relevant, critical, and essential service than it used to be. As enterprises grapple with the impact of coronavirus on their business operations, the need for effective communication and PR is inevitable. With misinformation being spread on social media, crisis communication becomes invaluable.

What Efforts Are Being Taken by Media Mantra to Maintain the Business as Usual?
This is an unprecedented period of tremendous change and ever-evolving challenges that is impacting all of us. Media Mantra ensures seamless business continuity by supporting all clients and colleagues on a 24x7 basis and providing them real-time updates and counsel, as needed. We are continuously leveraging best practices from our global network to function better in uncertain times. 
We believe that building a positive sentiment both internally and externally is important for any business. Owing to the need of effective communication to help spread correct and sound information among customers and stakeholders, PR becomes even more significant now.

Efforts are in place to continue business as usual by adopting new work lifestyle. Effective communication with co-workers is one of the downsides of remote work. To keep the workflow moving, we have invested in video conferencing and collaboration tools. Personal, as well as professional updates and feedback by employees, becomes a priority for any business. There are companies world over who are reporting increased overall productivity during remote work and lockdown period. We strive to achieve the same.

Discipline is the key factor to make work from effective, making meaningful goal-setting unavoidable. Businesses must define clear deliverables that will help to track and evaluate the outcomes effectively. Communicating with team members is the need of the hour as teams remain fragmented. Managers must always stay on the loop through virtual meetings and instant messaging. 

Summing It Up
In the present scenario when information overload and fake news are common, it is all the more important for companies to position themselves as a credible source of information that their customers and stakeholders can rely on. The coronavirus has become both public health and a PR challenge. Marketers are rushing to launch campaigns and adjusting communication that fits the time. At the same time, they are pondering as to when they can restart their advertising machine. The PR industry is re-writing its playbook to pitch reporters in the pandemic situation. PR executives are pulling media stories, ads, and campaigns that fit the current times. 

With the need to change lifestyle as social distancing, remote work, canceled trips and events become the need of the hour, a communications action plan becomes unavoidable. Emphasis must be laid on frequent, transparent, and accurate communications. Messages must be simple and factual to avoid any unnecessary panic. Continuously monitoring the media to stay abreast of the situation is immeasurably significant for PR executives. They should regularly engage with internal and external stakeholders to be prepared to act swiftly. 

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