The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva.
The severity and scale of the disease is still widely unknown, causing business leaders to scramble as they assess the scope of impact on their employees and their companies.
In these early stages of the pandemic, CEOs are grappling with critical decisions about how to keep their employees, customers, and business partners safe. While some industries may experience limited disruption during this crisis, others will be heavily impacted. That’s especially true for massive companies with tens of thousands of employees.
Once you’ve ensured the safety of your employees and customers, it’s critical to assess the long-term business implications of coronavirus and develop an actionable strategy to mitigate these risks.
How coronavirus impacts consumer trust
Analysts continue to crunch the numbers on how travel bans and supply chain disruptions will affect various markets, but few have looked at this crisis through the long-term lens of consumer trust and corporate reputation.
After COVID-19 has been contained, travel restrictions will be lifted, employees will return to work, and production will ramp up. However, consumer trust isn’t as elastic as a business continuity plan. Once trust is lost, brands have a much harder job rebuilding their equity with customers.
Some consumers may continue to distance themselves from industries that were hit hardest by the outbreak. Their aversion might be driven by the lingering fear of infection, dissatisfaction with how businesses handled the outbreak, or frustration over negative experiences resulting from events beyond a brand’s control.
In the months ahead, brand sentiment will be shaped dramatically by the level of exposure consumers have to negative narratives.
News outlets will likely publish attention-grabbing stories that erode consumer confidence in already hard-hit travel industries like airlines, cruise lines and hotels. Articles could surface accusing CEOs of making choices that harmed employees and investors which will further weigh on company financials.
Within a few months, the primary business impact of the coronavirus may begin to subside and the media’s attention will shift to the next big news cycle. However, if your industry was devastated by unfavorable news coverage, you’ll need a plan to rebuild consumer trust — especially if damaging content surfaces in your brand’s search results.
Contact us to discuss your situation and develop an action plan.
How we help rebuild consumer trust
Google is the confluence of consumers and brands. As people gain confidence in shopping, they’ll turn to the search engine for answers. Unfortunately, damaging content can remain in your company’s search results and erode customer trust long after the coronavirus pandemic has ended.
In fact, reputation accounts for 63% of a company’s market value, and that reputation is largely driven by what consumers find when they Google your brand.
As you navigate the early stages of protecting your employees, also consider the long-game of guarding your brand’s online narrative. The quicker you take action, the harder it is for unfavorable content to harm your company’s reputation in the aftermath of the crisis.
We develop and execute reputation management strategies for Fortune 1000 companies and CEOs facing similar challenges every day. Here’s a brief overview of what we do for global business leaders and billion dollar companies.
Assess your overall search landscape to determine the extent of current issues and vulnerabilities.
Determine root causes
Determine the underlying cause of your brand’s inability to hold back unfavorable content, and analyze the reason unwanted stories are surfacing in your search results.
Identify desired narratives
Identify the preferred narratives that are most critical to shaping your brand’s reputation and driving online success.
Inventory your digital web assets and network of allies to determine where preferred narratives can be positioned.
Optimize in-network web assets and web content to improve relevance and ranking potential within the Google search index.
Leverage off-page SEO to reinforce the authority, relevance and value of preferred third-party web assets while also fortifying general brand awareness.
Integrate with your existing PR teams to optimize press releases and media opportunities to maximize impact and avoid inadvertently driving more authority to existing unfavorable publications.
Improve visibility of revenue-generating pages
Capture more organic market share through a holistic SEO strategy that drives traffic to revenue-generating target pages.