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You don’t need to throw out your painstakingly researched and optimized media plan on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, but you do need to review it and start to rethink it. SVP of Marketing Richard Giannicchi breaks down steps to revise and update an existing media plan to stay in market, stay on-brand, and with appropriate messaging.

Businesses are urging employees to work remotely. Some schools, colleges, and universities are closing. Sports and cultural events are being canceled, and communities nationwide are practicing social distancing. This fluid, rapidly changing environment rightly has many marketers wondering about their media and marketing communications already in market.

It’s far from business as usual, but an assessment of your plan can help ensure you’re still making the most of your marketing and communications, and can protect your brand from any damage to your reputation.

Review Your Creative for Appropriateness

This is number one because it is the most obvious, immediate step. What products and services are you currently promoting, or are flighted for the next few weeks? For instance, if you’re a hospital, are you offering elective procedures right now? If you’re a University, prospective students can’t come to your open house.

If your hours have changed or locations are closed, be sure that your creative reflects these changes, and provide alternate ways for customers to get in touch.  Also, you may want to reconsider your Calls to Action. If you can’t urge people to come by in person, update these to phone, email, or landing page URLs that are set to track your media performance.

And don’t forget to review your scheduled communications, whether they are social posts or emails sent via a marketing-automation funnel. Platforms such as Social Studio, Hootsuite or SproutSocial may have posts scheduled well into the future, so consider turning these off as you review and update messaging.

Make Sure That Your Messages Are Aligned

It’s important that your contingency planning is making its way to your paid messaging. If you have developed communications specific to the coronavirus crisis that are being sent to your prospects or existing customers in emails or other channels, be sure to review these against your paid messaging so that all your messaging is consistent and in one voice as appropriate.

Revisit Your Channel Strategies

Understand that people are turning to cable TV, newspapers and online resources for critical news as situations rapidly evolve. Depending on the nature of your placements and the service or product you’re promoting, it might make sense to switch out a brand or service ad in place of a special message from your CEO, or a letter to your community at large.

Reallocate Spend If Possible

If your plan is flexible, explore re-allocating spend from experiential and out of home advertising into channels that will be seeing more activity over the next several weeks. This is likely to be paid search, display, and programmatic. Also, consider the bigger-than-usual audience for television and OTT advertising for streaming services. According to Nielsen, in South Korea as cases spiked, television viewership went up over 17%, and not surprisingly, the US audience is following suit.

Review Your Social Media Plan

Social can be a great medium for connecting with your community and spreading positivity. Think about the power of #BostonStrong and #StandWithParkland. If it’s appropriate, consider using a positive hashtag as you’re sharing new content on your owned channels.Facebook Live also presents an opportunity to have relevant people from your organization communicate directly with your community. Whether it be physicians, deans of schools, faculty, or PR spokespeople, consider a broadcast to answer their pressing questions, and to provide updates that are appropriate for your various audiences.

The longer-term implications of this pandemic are yet to be seen, but it’s probably safe to assume it will significantly influence media plans in 2020. While there isn’t one direction that we can confidently steer everyone, across all industries towards, we do believe that plans can successfully pivot based on their brand objectives. If you have any questions regarding media plans, optimizations, or the quickly changing media landscape, contact us here.