In uncertain times, it is more important than ever to share experience, insights and advice with your peers so we can all learn from one another. With this in mind, we are having conversations with members across various sectors to understand how themselves and their teams have been coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, what they have learned from it and how they continue helping their customers.

For this week’s instalment in the series we’ve chatted to Mairead Kearns is the founder of Konnect, connecting brands with experienced and professional journalists for content creation.

MII: Hi Mairead, can you tell us about how have you been adapting your marketing activities during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Konnect was a new brand – in business for just 6 months when the pandemic struck. Replacing face to face meetings with meaningful engagement has been challenging. We have relied on social to get our story and services out into the marketplace. Networking within the marketing community and explaining our services has also been very beneficial.

We built out our website to ensure that the service we offer is available to SME’s as well as corporate clients. Everybody wants their story told well. And that is not as easy as it might seem. Our journalists’ everyday purpose is to tell stories and engage with an audience who will listen, care and act.

This has resulted in some great work being done where needed. Many brands are taking the time to consider how they communicate with their audience and at Konnect we offer the services of professional and experienced journalists who are subject specialists.

How have you been engaging with your team?

Like every other team in the Country and indeed the world we have relied on Zoom/Teams etc to stay connected and to hold meetings. Journalists are used to working on solo and off site projects, so they still have access to all their research tools to ensure they are building the type of content our client’s value.

So, communicating hasn’t been a real problem. We have all settled into virtual communication but will be looking forward to getting back to face-to-face meetings when and where possible.

What have you learned from a marketing perspective from COVID – 19?

It has pushed people into thinking of different ways to communicate with their target audience. It has allowed them to look at parts of their business which might have been on the back burner, particularly content creation. It has fast forwarded lots of concepts like working from home and transferring your business online.

Lots of companies were trying to build content themselves but having a professional journalist on your team makes life so much easier and gives you content, which is engaging and relevant, while freeing up your team to do what they do best. More than ever, unless you communicate well you can get lost in a sea of bland and boring content.

This Pandemic has also thought us that speed and agility are paramount in keeping pace with public sentiment and it is important to be ready to tailor your message accordingly.

How have your work practices changed? What will you do differently going forward?

We have learned to use all the digital tools which are commonplace now. We have all accepted that what we thought was not possible is of course possible. But I do believe a mix of the old world and new will deliver success.

There is nothing like face-to-face contact. But I believe we will continue to use the virtual tools to navigate the challenge of time management into the future.

People are very resilient and will adapt and carry on. In the first few weeks, it did feel strange and novel to be in a lockdown but very quickly, we all realised this is the deck of cards we have been dealt, so how do we make the best of it. Businesses which initially stalled during the first lockdown, have since carried on as normal throughout the next 2 lockdowns. Resilience and being ready and able to adapt to our changing society is key.

Has your brand purpose been challenged by COVID 19? How?

I believe our brand purpose which is to build and deliver valuable and engaging content for our customers so that their target audience in turn will listen, care and act is now more relevant than ever.

We have all got used to shopping online for everything, checking out the spec on a gadget, checking out insurance details and specification. We are living online more than ever now, and we have been doing it for almost a year. This is now a habit.

Brands have to ensure that the content they create for their website and how they communicate with their audience, needs to bring value and knowledge to that audience for them to react in a positive way toward the brand. A brand manager or product manager doesn’t necessarily have the skills to build a story of engaging and valuable content which would connect with your customer. A specialist journalist is best placed to produce this content taking the stress and hassle out of it for everyone.

What brands or businesses have you admired through the crisis?

Many brands have treated the pandemic with sensitivity and empathy. Some have made us laugh, others made us cry with emotion. Certainly, the SuperValu and Woodies DIY TV adverts during the Christmas period tugged at the heartstring. All of the restaurants who have gone online and do take out boxes instead of dining in their gorgeous premises have been innovative and brave, which I have no doubt will result in packed restaurants as soon as well can all get out and about again.