Brand pivoting is critical in the COVID age—how agile are you?

by | Sep 21, 2020 | Analysis, Public Relations

Many basketball coaches say the reverse pivot is one of the fastest ways to improve a young player’s attack skills. Similarly, brands that are quick to adapt and pivot may also see quicker success as consumers emerge from under the pandemic.

What’s changed

Sure, many brands and companies like salons, restaurants, and fitness centers adapted to COVID-19 rules, but many are also shuttered permanently because of the decrease in business and/or anxiety by consumers about venturing out safely. A National Federation of Business survey just a week after the pandemic was declared in March soberly revealed that 76 percent of small businesses had already been negatively affected. Recognition and acknowledgment of changed customer attitudes are important for marketers wishing to remain in the game. And like the reverse pivot, here are four suggestions that could help.

Consumer needs

Understanding consumer concerns, needs, and emotions are important before initiating any changes. Monitoring and evaluating comments on social media platforms, inviting feedback, personal contact with the most loyal customers, and even forming a consumer advisory panel are ways in which to learn what’s changed and the priority of consumers today. Armed with this new information, CMOs can forge new tactics that tailor messages around these major issues and concerns. That messaging should acknowledge how people feel and what the brand is doing to help allay them. Customers who are aware that the brand cares about them and is doing something are more likely to remain loyal.

Up the game

As past articles have pointed out, social media usage has accelerated since the pandemic, and marketing posts have increased as well to keep up with the traffic. The number of platforms consumers are visiting compared to pre-pandemic times has also risen.

Not only must brands increase their content, but they also need to be present on more social media and digital PR platforms to compete. Podcasts, YouTube videos, and even TikTok while it’s still available and/or Instagram will not only satisfy the needs of existing customers but also reach out to potential ones.


As long as in-person events are on hold, online digital events, workshops. Even roundtables that engage and replicate in-person emotions can be priceless. When the pandemic is over, attendees will remember the brand’s role and empathy. Virtual event platforms like bluejeans.com and hopin.to are among several firms that provide the means to create these engaging environments.

Relationship building

In China, two brush strokes are used to create the word “crisis.” One stroke represents a crisis and the other opportunity. Just as some new businesses arose after the pandemic and became successful, so, too, does COVID-19 afford CMOs the potential to seize the opportunity by being aware that new, prosperous relationships and business partnerships can also emerge in times of crisis.

These types of partnerships should not be confused with disapproval by many big companies and private equity firms taking advantage of the pandemic and buying out smaller competitors. The sentiment is so strong that Congress is presently considering the Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act of 2020 introduced earlier this year.

On the other hand, a partnership that is an extension of the company’s capabilities, and which heightens the brand’s value in consumers’ eyes, has the potential of triggering a boost in revenue that could improve ROI.

Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian founded 5WPR, a leading PR agency..