We are still in a crisis, but why did the support to frontline workers end?

In a post COVID-19 world, many things have changed. The reshuffle and new normal caused a lot of new problems and a lot of uncertainties. Many people are out of jobs and the market does not look good. There are many who face financial hardships and obviously some winners and some losers in the community.

Yes, focusing on the frontline staff and supporting them is important, but Singapore is still in a Crisis with more than 200 people infected everyday. We are still in the circuit breaker and restaurants limit guests to 5 to a table and businesses are closing down.

The Casinos are retrenching workers and companies running events and other activities where crowds may gather are also badly affected. Many food counters that were supporting the frontline workers have stopped.

The donations and support, and all the positive messages pushed by the media have all since ended in February. What has changed?

The problem with giving and support is that these actions are meant to be short term, but in any crisis, the effects are long term. The COVID-19 crisis is turning into a financial crisis as people lose their jobs but there is virtually no social safety nets to support. The $1,200 provided by the government barely covers expenses for a month and we are going on 6 months into the crisis.

The issue faced is that the focus of “aid” shifts. In February, we are thanking the healthcare workers, and in April, we are supporting the foreign workers who are quarantined away from the general population. Singapore is still in phase 2 of the circuit breaker and restaurants are closing down as they still need to pay rents and staff while their customers are reduced.

Many industries that relied heavily on tourists are badly affected as no one is traveling now, and will not be doing so in the near future. So for the companies that are doing relatively well during this crisis, are there any plans to support the community and how are you going to communicate this?

Integrated communications and CSR

It is important to have an integrated communication channel that connects your advertisements, messaging and other social activities together, more so during this period where many people are finding it hard to get by.

We all know that the situation is challenging. In these times, proper community support along with good positive communications can go a long way. We all know that food delivery is popular and many food outlets are offering discounts to get customers. A tip to get more people to know about your discounts is simply to work with local NGOs feeding the marginalised families to support some of these organisations with some meals a day. Then with their communication channels, share the initiative and highlight the need to support such initiatives. The positive message along with a discount to support customers in this bad times can be very newsworthy, and these discounts and offers will be shared without purchasing ads.

An integrated communication channel that coordinates efforts to support various communities, community messages and offers is very important, and a proper strategy to execute this can allow the community to empathise with the situation and support the cause. But a poorly executed communication plan will make this feel like the company is capitalising on the situation.

The key factor for success is sincerity — if the company is still focused on increasing profits, it will show, and such effort will backfire, but if the focus is to support people who are affected by the crisis and weather it out together, the community will appreciate and work through the crisis together, making sure no one is left behind.