PANDEMIC COMMUNICATIONS

April 29, 2020
Rachel Colgan

In unknown times like those we currently face, it would be easy for companies, big or small, to hide away and scale back communications functions. However, as global media consumption increases at an almighty rate across all media outlets, the role that communications and PR plays becomes increasingly important. Certainly, your messages will have to change to sensitively reflect the changes and it’s definitely not business as usual but there are still timely opportunities to communicate positive and supportive messages.

Highlighting this point, last Thursday, we helped client Barratt Homes light up an iconic building in Basingstoke as part of the nationwide Clap For Our Carers campaign.

It was a fitting tribute for The White Building to honour NHS workers, which has a long history as a Basingstoke medical landmark. The elegant Art Deco building, designed in the 1930s by notable industrial architect Arthur George Porri, was a pharmaceuticals factory for Eli Lilly producing essential medicines until its recent conversion into contemporary apartments by housebuilder client Barratt Southern Counties.

It was the second time the iconic building has changed colour in a time of crisis. The factory opened during World War 2, producing sterilising tablets and medicines for use by Allied troops. However, as the war progressed, half of the factory was commandeered to build small aeroplane parts, and to improve security the gleaming white exterior was concealed in the camouflage colours of brown and maroon.

Julian Hodder, Managing Director of Barratt Southern Counties, said: “This was the first time since the end of World War 2 that The White Building has been anything other than white. During the war, the colour change was intended to render the building invisible – this time it’s the opposite; we wanted the Basingstoke landmark to shine out across the town as a ray of hope in troubled times, reminding everyone of the vital role played by NHS carers and key workers in this crisis and demonstrating our gratitude.”

Lighting up The White Building is a morale-boosting act of solidarity, and builds on the practical work that Barratt Developments has already been doing to help the NHS – including significant donations to NHS charities and supplying 500 defibrillators from its sites across the UK to St John Ambulance.

So, at a time when the world as we once knew it changes, communications too must adapt to our new environment and news agenda.  When media consumption has become a daily necessity to everyone in lock down – there is no better time.