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Virtually all companies are impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, and struggle with finding the best way forward, maintaining existing clients and finding new ones. Information and communication are central topics, and the creative sector has unique knowledge in the field. Marc Lis, manager of the Luxembourg Creative Industries Cluster at Luxinnovation, invited his community to a webinar entitled “CREAdvice: Locking down the right content”.

Reliable sources versus fake news

In this era of fake news and a certain scepticism towards experts, a time of crisis is a true test of whom we trust. “People want to have reliable news, so they look to trusted brands rather than social media to find it,” commented Tom Weber, digital director at digital media group RTL Luxembourg. As soon as the crisis started, the group noticed a considerable increase in the use of its different channel, in particular its website (which has had nearly 200 million page views since the outbreak of the pandemic) and TV channels. “Everyone in Luxembourg uses our services to be informed. We are producing more news than ever before – and, due to the confinement, this is being done with an empty newsroom.”

The need for info is greater than ever. People are desperate to know what is happening in their industry.

“The need for info is greater than ever,” confirmed David Schrieberg, CEO and co-founder of business content specialist VitalBriefing. “People are desperate to know what is happening in their industry.” However, picking out the most relevant and reliable pieces of information from the huge news flow is far from easy.

Identifying trustworthy sources is central. While much of RTL Luxembourg’s news is based on the information issued by the Luxembourg governments to produce its news, VitalBriefing helps its clients get a relevant overview of information from various global channels. “Our business idea is beating back the tsunami of news with journalism,” said Mr Schrieberg. With a network of over 70 specialised  journalists, the company provides its clients with tailor-made briefings that aggregate and synthesise information that can help them detect opportunities and threats and make informed decisions. The sources used are a combination of those the clients trust and those in which the journalists have high confidence.

Crisis communication do’s and don’t’s

Finding information that you can trust is one side of the coin – showing that you and your company can be trusted is the other. When hit by the crisis and the subsequent lockdown, some companies virtually disappeared and just stopped communicating. A way of proceeding that is completely opposite to what the experts advise. “Coming back after a period of radio silence is very difficult,” confirmed Louis Wagner, managing partner of Yuzer Group, a communications agency specialised in crisis management. “It is important to keep communicating in order to show your employees and your customers that you are still there and that you care about them. Showing empathy is crucial at this time.”

Coming back after a period of radio silence is very difficult.

Mr Wagner put forward three keywords for reliable communication: authenticity, transparency and coherence. “If one is missing in your communication, you are quite likely to have an issue later on,” he pointed out. Instead of waiting to have complete information, he advised to communicate with the information at hand and be open about factors that are still unclear. “Your communication must not be of the highest technical level. A video recorded with your smartphone works very well.”

He also pointed out that although people working from home tend to consult social media more often than they do in the office, many companies have stopped their advertisement campaigns. This means that social media ads are very cheap at the moment, and an attractive means to reach clients.

Changing journalism forever

The lockdown is forcing creatives to innovate. On the news, for example, we regularly see people being interviewed from their homes via a smartphone or computer, something that was completely unthinkable just a few weeks ago. “In the beginning it was difficult, but the acceptancy of digital interviews is increasing and we will see more of them in the future,” confirmed Mr Weber of RTL. “COVID-19 will have a fundamental impact on journalism and entertainment broadcasting.”

Our profession is changing by the minute.

Mr Schrieberg agreed: “Our profession is changing by the minute as a result of this situation. I’m sorry to see that we are going to lose a lot of human-to-human interaction. I hope we will be able to get back to it, but the way of doing things will for sure change.”

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