COVID Impact: Influencers and Celebrities.

Trust and authenticity are foundational to mass communications, so it’s no surprise that 72% of consumers between the ages of 16 and 24 say that they would unfollow an influencer over a disingenuous endorsement. But how are content creators and brand ambassadors connecting with their audiences in the midst of COVID-19? Creating Escapes   As the world is engulfed in anxiety, actor of ‘The Office’ and ‘Jack Ryan’ fame, John Krasinski, has taken the internet by storm with his “Some Good News with John Krasinski” YouTube series. In less than 20 minutes, Krasinski offers the world some uplifting news, as well as interviews with fellow comedians like Steve Carell. Similarly, celebrities like Jennifer Garner, Amy Adams, and Jimmy Kimmel have been reading books to children as part of the #SaveWithStories campaign. Not every organization has a celebrity on tap like Krasinski, but we can create positive, good content to share with our audiences. In this stressful time, we’re searching for content that makes us smile and forget how abnormal the world’s current predicament is, even if it’s not directly related to a brand’s core identity or product. Our audiences are too—that’s a need we can cater to as communicators. Embracing Your Local Community  Ashley Graham, a model, TV host, and body-positivity influencer, is using her platform to promote her partnership with Direct Relief in an effort to bring more Personal Protective Equipment to local NYC EMS workers. Graham is one of the thousands of influencers rallying around their local communities and embracing opportunities to ease the struggles of this pandemic. This is not a paid promotional ploy or marketing maneuver, but an opportunity to bring people together around a cause that Graham—and other New Yorkers—are passionate about. At the same time, she’s still finding opportunities to post sponsored content for various brands and fashion labels that demonstrate how she’s changed her lifestyle and is social distancing while Zooming on work calls because of COVID-19.
The way that Graham uses her influence isn’t too different from how other organizations have behaved over the last month. There’s a delicate balance between “business as usual” content, and content that serves interests other than your own. Push yourself to find local causes, campaigns, or opportunities that relate to your mission and serve your community. Providing Utility  Aaptiv, an on-demand fitness app that boasts over 200,000 members, has completely shifted its marketing strategy during COVID-19. As COVID-19 spread, their fitness trainers, all of whom are influencers, began to host free workout sessions on Instagram. Moreover, they shifted their in-app workouts to have no equipment requirements so people can workout while socially distanced in their homes. Other fitness studios, brands, coaches, and trainers have done the same, from actor Chris Hemsworth to Nike (which also donated $15 million to help fight COVID-19).
Not every organization is in the fitness business, but these examples illustrate a critical point: Take your organizations’ product and provide a service, or an outlet, for the general public. While people are at home, anxious and potentially unemployed, ask yourself what resources, information, or products can you provide to your audience at an affordable cost or free of charge? Consumers will remember how your brand treated them in a crisis—those who were charitable and kind will build up a loyal customer base that could outlast the coming downturn.


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