Love In The Time Of Coronavirus

It's time to earn your media, not just buy it.

As India scrambles to figure out life during a lockdown, marketers across the country are in a conundrum. Since everyone — especially in regional India — is at home, it is easier to reach a bigger audience with fewer spends. So, what should you do?

Nothing. Do not advertise your business.

Instead, focus on helping people anyway you can. Re-deploy your factories to produce PPEs or other required equipment. Use your logistics arm to help the government with agricultural supply chains. Every business has some capability that can be leveraged to help their community.

What If You Don’t Have Obvious Capabilities?

Every business has some capability to help. Take Lokal, for example. We are a media company, with relatively lower reach than the bigger news apps like DailyHunt.

However, we have two advantages; we have users in Tier-III and Tier-IV locations that trust our updates, and we have reporters and editors from Tier-III and Tier-IV locations that know what the most useful information for those audiences is.

In essence, we have prioritised Covid-19 content on a constituency and district level. However, this is not focussed on fear mongering or negativity that would increase our hits.

Instead, we are providing very basic services; which essential goods shop are open, when are they open, what are their contact details.

The status of police updates in your region, delivered from the face and voice of the policeman themselves (see image).

Additionally, we are helping disseminate localised information on the number of cases in a district. At the moment, all other outlets seem to be focussing on higher level numbers — global case rates, national case rates, and state case rates. Our focus on district and constituency case rates is helping our audience truly understand the threat to their communities, and spread the message that responsible action (not fear-based action) is important.

We can’t provide services, and we can’t build products. Once the virus hits community spread (if it hits community spread), we can’t help build equipment. However, we can help disseminate information responsibly, and leverage our brand in Tier-III and Tier-IV towns in South India to calm our audience and to help maintain the peace.

What Does This Have To Do With Marketing?

Everything! The goal of marketing and advertising to build a brand that people want to interact with. Whether that is buying a product, using a service, or downloading an app, marketing is meant to prove your value to your target group.

We live in an extreme moment, where everyone is fearful of the same large. looming crisis. If you can play a role in easing their fear, even a little bit, you will be remembered for it.

It’s why alcohol companies are making hand sanitisers. It’s why content companies like Lokal are forgoing short-term hits for responsible reporting. It’s why Tata and Mahindra are working with the DRDO to build cheap ventilators.

The earned media that you will achieve from serving the public is the best kind of brand marketing you will ever get. Be the solution, don’t exploit the problem.

Are you having problems with how to build a public good? Please reach out to me at, or at

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