Pivoting Marketing and Communication Plans During Crisis

I’ve always admired musicians and artists and have secretly wished I could sing and play piano. Well, my raspy voice provides its challenges, and singing outside of my shower is definitely out of the question! Therefore, I enjoy and support the talents of others, finding their musical gifts fascinating and fulfilling. My partner, Bob Cramer, plays guitar, plays in a band, and has taught me how to appreciate even broader styles of music. We can’t wait to get back out to our local restaurants and enjoy listening to local artists.

As the CEO of Nickerson, a marketing and communications agency with 20+ years in crisis communications experience, I knew our company had to quickly pivot the marketing and communications plans of all of our clients while pivoting our own brand at the same time. The first thing I did was make calls to all of our clients, who we consider partners, to discuss both their immediate needs and changes to their long-term strategies.

In thinking about Nickerson, I drew on our crisis communications experience and thought about where our opportunities were to provide the most value to current and potentially new clients. Our team is SO GOOD at strategy, I knew we had an opportunity for the agency to thrive during the COVID-19 crisis. We asked ourselves, what do people actually WANT right now? And, the answer wasn’t another white paper or “how to” on what to do with your communications strategy. We decided to elevate our brand, utilizing all our service offerings and team member talents to engage with the world while we all sit at home. We recognized we needed to do something that no one else was doing.

I’ve always lived by the “Power of NOW,” and I started brainstorming with the team. How could we deliver something engaging and uplifting through video? The key to managing communications and marketing during crisis is to provide information that is honest, authentic, completely relevant and emotionally thoughtful for your audience. During the quarantine, people are feeling disconnected, confused, frustrated, and uncertain. Our goal as an agency was to CREATE something that would allow us to CONNECT and SUPPORT others.

While other agencies were announcing webinars to discuss “the state of media” during the pandemic (major SNOOZEFEST in my opinion, and not at all my style), my team and I were pulling together something different. We wanted to stray away from the pack, creating something unique. In less than a week we assembled a daily webinar, “Lunch with Lisa,” which would feature leaders across all industries who could share their expertise and insights, uplifting others during this challenging time. “Lunch with Lisa” is a 25-minute webinar that streams live Monday through Friday starting at 12:15 and ending promptly at 12:40pm. The “bite-sized” segment provides participants a lunch break to refresh and recharge their brains. Participants engage in a live chat and daily polls with me and my guest. The goal is for our viewers to leave our webinars feeling energized, inspired, and ready to take on the rest of their day, while I walk away knowing I provided something truly helpful to others.

Each Friday is “Entertainment Friday” on the webinar, where we feature musicians, comedians, and other entertainers, providing them a platform to connect with an international audience. We’ve had some fantastic musicians on the show, from “The Voice” contestant and R&B artist Royce Lovett, to Boston Music Awards winner Louie Bello and rising Radio Disney star Cody Newman. All guests have the opportunity to promote a charity. Bello, for example, promoted his independent fund to help his friends who are Boston and Nashville-based musicians. This week, CMT Pure & Discovery artist Elizabeth Lyons will promote her upcoming appearance on the Band Together Benefit, an online music festival raising money for New Orleans musicians whose livelihoods have been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I’m not sure if it’s that quality people are hard to come by, or if it’s just that I enjoyed my lunch with Lisa.” Lovett said. “After doing lots of interviews, most of them start to feel the same, but then it becomes easy to tell when someone truly values you and is truly giving value to their audience. Lisa does that.”

During the second week of our webinar, we were included in Forbes.com, recognized for our “inspiring content.” Shortly after, we were contacted by Equiem, a leading tenant experience app, asking if they could promote “Lunch with Lisa” on their platform Remote by Equiem, which boasts more than 200,000 users across nine countries.

Our webinar has seen success because we differentiated ourselves from others, creating something distinctly new and refreshing. That’s what you need to do while home during this pandemic. Use this time to be creative and innovative, crafting something that is uniquely YOU. Create opportunities for yourself and take every opportunity that comes your way because you never know where it will lead.

And, until I can get back out and watch live music, I’ll enjoy watching my friends play live over social media or Bob play on Zoom calls with his friends. It’s all about supporting each other while still trying to enjoy what we love! Stay safe and healthy!

You can register for upcoming “Lunch with Lisa” webinars at nickersoncos.com/LwL.