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communication in uncertain times

VWe live in times of uncertainty, doubt and fear for not knowing what will happen tomorrow. Life does not continue and will not continue the same and we have also changed. It is enough to look inside ourselves for a few minutes and ask ourselves: what do I do now that I did not do two years, six months, three months, a week ago?, or conversely: what have I stopped doing?

With the arrival of COVID-19, evident changes have occurred in human behavior, among which we highlight: incorporation of new hygiene habits; more solidarity; increased fear of death; greater appreciation of life and changes in work and consumption habits.

We are in a stage of vertiginous changes, which sociologists like Zygmunt Bauman defined as liquid modernity, where everything flows excessively fast and there is no interest in permanence, lasting construction, or the generation of future bases. Immediacy has acquired a superlative value. A stage of social interaction so light and fickle, like water that escapes between the fingers and it is impossible to give it a concrete shape, and can even cause chaos, depending on the strength of its flow.

This context raises deep reflections. One of them is how to work from communication with an audience divided between the nostalgia of returning to the habits and routines of before Covid-19 and another that, by force of learning, has submerged itself in the technological ocean, apparently without return.

How the young consumer in Central America and the Caribbean is informed in a context of uncertainty

In the context of the 60th anniversary of the Inter-American Confederation of Public Relations (CONFIARP), I had the opportunity to lead an investigation, through Comunica y Aliados, obtaining updated regional data that allows us to know how young consumers in Central America and the Caribbean are informed in times of Covid-19 and what are their habits. What do you like, what are you looking for, what do you prefer?

The study was carried out with 784 men and women from Central America and the Dominican Republic between the ages of 18 and 45, with the most significant results being:

· Internet use increased 65%.

· 85.58% use social networks, WhatsApp being the leading social network (91.4%), followed by Facebook (79.51%) and Instagram (56.71%).

· 63.35% consume news in digital newspapers.

· 56.13% make use of online educational platforms.

· Use of streaming television (19.77%).

· The preferred streaming television platform in the region is Netflix (50.79%).

· During the pandemic, 71.62% of the population is informed by a digital medium.

· When it comes to information in traditional media (ATL), the population continues with the preference of open television (71.62%).

· As a result of the pandemic, 73% of respondents have downloaded and used video calling applications such as Zoom, Skype, Teams for the first time.

· The most prominent sector in online purchases is food (66.09%).

· 73% of the population —more than 43 million inhabitants throughout the region— is digitally connected to obtain any type of information.

· The frequency of connection to cell phones is more than ten times a day in search of content and willing to strengthen their relationship with the network.

When you don't know what to do, do nothing?

A well-known Buddhist proverb states: When you don't know what to do, do nothing, referring to the fact that when there is disorder, chaos or you don't know what to do, due to rapid changes, it is best not to move and do nothing, because it suitable will manifest itself.

In communication this proverb does not apply.

There is no non-communication. We are always communicating something, even when we are silent. In this world of rapid changes and few foundations, communicators must come to grips defining communication strategies and actions that, although they must be planned in a timely manner according to the times, must not be light. On the contrary. They must start from reflection and a deep understanding of the new forms of social relations generated as a result of the crisis and uncertainty that we are currently experiencing.

Although behavior changes and new forms of relationship and consumption are progressive processes, the research carried out showed that a significant group of people (58.35%) are willing to return to their routines and activities prior to Covid-19. However, 41.65% are willing to maintain the recently acquired digital uses within the framework of the pandemic. This becomes a window of opportunity for companies and media strategists.

So, what to do to simultaneously serve an audience that is digitally connected, but that is torn between the nostalgia of returning to their old habits and the inertia that keeps them in the digital world, even depending on it more and more?

There are no simple answers to such a complex question, but some recommendations are as follows:


  • Work on honest and empathetic communication that connects with the expectations of the public,

  • Generate feedback with the public.

  • Work on the multi-channel, prioritizing digital media and the breadth of options they offer, withoutforget the power of ATL and BTL with proper planning.

  • Segment appropriately for audiences.

  • Investigate to support our actions with evidence.

  • Support communication with graphic and audiovisual resources of impact.

  • Generate content in a structured and permanent way.

  • Find the window of opportunity for the new products and services that have been boosted in the digital sector and integrate them into daily use for their use.

  • Be authentic.

In these uncertain times, the only thing certain is that change has already arrived and knocked on our doors. It is up to us now, as communicators, to define an inclusive strategy that focuses on the different audiences —those who are resistant to change or have quickly adapted to it—, and those who are vulnerable due to the effects of the system. How we will do it depends on the sensitivity and approaches of each one. What is clear is that we must continue walking, building, opening new paths and producing new ideas.

libro directora de comunica
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