The media is an essential service. “When times are good you should advertise, when times are bad you MUST advertise.”
That fear stalks us daily is a fact. That we live in uncertain times is clear.
What the world’s future holds has never been a given, but humans have an incredible capacity to adapt during and after cataclysmic events.
Lockdown and the media
The media plays a central role in all this uncertainty, delivering information to people when they need it most.
Responsible media is at the forefront of fact-checking, fighting fake news and misinformation, ensuring readers are kept up to date and informed, and providing a safe space for advertisers to deliver their messages.
As Chris Moerdyk said in his The Media Online column last week, “The coronavirus pandemic has illustrated very clearly the importance and reliability of traditional mass media, while at the same time, showing up the flaws and dangers of online social platforms.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his extraordinary and powerful address to the nation on Monday night [23 March 2020], has placed us in lockdown.
Only personnel and businesses regarded as being essential to “continued operations”, would be allowed out in public. And media workers employed in “communication and media services on screen, TV, radio, print, broadcast and online” were listed as one of those essential services.
With South Africa in lockdown, and millions staying at home, media consumption will increase. People will be reading, watching and listening a lot. That’s a massive captive audience out there.
Radio as an essential service
Radio stations across the globe are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by being the reassuring voice in listeners’ ears. Radio gives a sense of community, provides a trusted source of information and a place where listeners can share their fears and even find out how how and where they can help.
At a webinar hosted by Research Directors in the US this week, a partner in the business, Charlie Sislen, stressed how important it was to advertise in uncertain times, adding that advertising was more important than ever.
“Those that continue to market and advertise through tough times, and times of uncertainty, will be stronger than those that don’t advertise [until] the crisis is over — and this crisis will be over.”
And he added, “Who would have thought four weeks ago that this microscopic virus would upend our society and our economy?” he asked. “The world will continue. And those that advertise, and those that market through these uncertainties, will have a tremendous advantage over those that lose their brand identity.”
Reasons why you should advertise
- It’s important for marketers to reflect an image of corporate stability. Advertising helps do that, projecting confidence and belief in the future.
- With South Africa in lockdown, and millions staying at home, media consumption will increase. People will be reading, watching and listening a lot.
- Advertising rates become more negotiable, meaning you get much more bang for your buck while projecting a strong image. It’s a buyer’s market.
- Marketers always talk about clutter. Now is the time when clutter is less of an issue. Your business has a chance to shine like a solo star on a stage.
- By not advertising, businesses lose momentum which is hard to pick up once the crisis passes.
- If you advertise, once the crisis passes, and it will, the return on your marketing expenditure will be amplified after making your voice heard when many went silent.
Bill Gates, in an open letter to the world on COVID-19, said in point 13: “It [coronavirus] is reminding us that after every difficulty, there is always ease. Life is cyclical, and this is just a phase in this great cycle. We do not need to panic; this too will pass”.
And remember the wise words of the Wal-Mart Founder, Sam Walton. Asked what he thought about a recession, he said: “What do you think about a recession?” he responded, “I thought about it and decided not to participate.”
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