Lockdown has fast tracked the death of print in South Africa, but are we conflating that with the death of media?
Probably the only thing that is very clear about the Coronavirus (COVID--19) crisis is that it is escalating trends - moving them along much more quickly. Witness the transition to us leading full digital lives. It happened overnight with the lockdown, despite the technology having been with us for years.
And now the slow death of print has really escalated - Associated magazines (Cosmo, House & Leisure) closed down last week; Daily Sun has cut back on print editions in some provinces and Caxton announced it is withdrawing from magazine publishing.
The death of print mustn't be conflated with the death of media.
In fact digital media worldwide are seeing much higher volumes of traffic and readership than ever before. People are searching for information, for entertainment. But the irony of this renewed interest is that advertising revenues are down.
Brands are pulling back at a time when research suggests they should stay invested - there is very clear evidence that brands that continued to invest in communication during the 2008 downturn bounced back significantly faster
It makes no sense to me that as people search for more information, brands do not want to be discovered. They should be asking themselves if we can afford not to be seen now, not to have a view, not to be as exciting, necessary, and interesting as we were before lockdown.
The answer is very clear - you have to be.
Some brands have responded amazingly. They have come out in full force to support, engage, inspire and entertain the communities they serve.
Particularly a cluster of Pernod Ricard brands (full disclosure - they are Total Exposure’s clients). And consider this, they have not been able to sell a thing since lockdown. Jameson Connects: The Stay Inn supporting comedians and musicians, and staying true to their brand promise of connecting people through culture; Absolut’s masterclasses with Trevor Stuurman - supporting the creative industry (and creating some amazing designer masks at the same time); Ballantine’s for taking a cancelled festival online - and sticking to its truth of supporting True Music.
I think they demonstrate that they are here for the long game - investing and communicating through this cycle; understanding that as consumers we need to know that the things we like and trust are still there.
After all we support people and brands we trust. And in fact, trust gets to the heart of good PR.