COVID-19: how media organisations responded

COVID-19: how media organisations responded

As coronavirus spreads across the world, forcing entire populations to stay indoors while health services deal with an unprecedented crisis, we look at the positive steps media and tech companies have made to help – plus the best brand pivots and the most dishonourable mention


The BBC has quickly proved its value as a public service broadcaster – easily setting it apart from some of the commercial ventures that threaten it – with the announcement of a new show called ‘Health Check Live’, 5 Live doing as many phone-ins with experts as possible, and virtual church services launching on BBC One on Sunday mornings.

The broadcaster, which the current Government has been openly hostile to since its general election win, has also taken other steps to deliver daily educational shows for key stages and year groups on iPlayer, while it hints that it will extend the free licence fee for over 75s until at least August.

We predict a recalibration of political sentiment when this crisis finally ends.


Last month Snap announced the upcoming launch of Here For You, a new feature that would show users resources from expert partners when they search for certain topics related to mental health.

Snap sped up the launch in response to the pandemic and made the feature available in the US and UK on Thursday (March 19).

Launch partners include Young Minds, The Samaritans and Diana Award in the UK – and soon a search section related to coronavirus will provide users with content on anxiety specifically related to the disease from the likes of the WHO and NHS.


The social media giant would be nothing without its SME advertisers, which is why Facebook announced the creation of a $100 million grant program to help 30,000 small businesses around the world. Fair play.


Adland appeared swift to protect workers, with the likes of WPP – the largest ad network with around 130,000 staff globally – telling everyone to work from home ahead of the UK government recommendation. Omnicom, with around 70,000 employees, did the same.

However, beyond such moves some individual media agencies have inspired us with small acts of kindness – such as The Specialist Works having a mountain of office treats redirected to a homeless charity, or Bountiful Cow offering free media consultation for small and struggling businesses. The indy is conducting 15 minute zoom slots with its top minds, dishing out advice on strategy.

Keep it coming.

Best brand pivots

There are lots of great examples of big name brands responding in a remarkable fashion to the crisis – with Morrison’s a fine example of a business looking after staff, suppliers and customers.

However, these are some of our favourite stories of brands responding in more unlikely yet entirely practical ways.

For instance, indy brewer BrewDog has started production of hand sanitiser at its distillery in Aberdeenshire to help with shortages. The firm said it would be giving away the “punk sanitiser” for free, which although looks a bit like an attention seeking marketing ploy, still gets our vote because we like the idea of everyone in society thinking about beating this as a war effort.

Likewise, independent gin producers – such as Dundee-based Verdant Spirits – are hoping to produce 400 litres of the gel starting this week. Even LVMH, the French luxury brand behind Christian Dior, is mucking in by producing hand sanitiser at its cosmetics factories and delivering it to hospitals.

Elsewhere, fast-food chain Leon is turning its depleted restaurants into mini-supermarkets – a bid to help ease food supply concerns as much as stay afloat. Leon, which owns 75 outlets, is also moving into eCommerce with a platform that allows customers to book a delivery slot. Welcome to the new normal.

We look forward to seeing how brand metric scores might change as a result of the crisis. For now, a scan of Twitter shows that many customers said they will later reward those businesses that made an effort during the crisis – and would punish those that failed to act in any meaningful way…

Dishonourable mention

Billionaire Richard Branson – whose care business once sued the NHS – decided not to pay his airline staff for their enforced 8 weeks leave. Classy.

The maths was quickly calculated – Branson is worth £4bn and the cost to pay staff is £34m – and thus public outrage ensued.

What the world of business needs is more Gary Nevilles – the ex-footballer is sending staff from his hotels home on full pay while opening up the buildings to NHS staff.

Now that, is class.

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