Anyone that has recently tried to get building or renovation work carried out at their home or business residence will have been deeply frustrated by unavoidable delays and stoppages. There has been a critical shortage of building materials caused by a number of reasons, including disruption of global supply lines due to the pandemic.
On 18th June, Construction News reported that: “As construction activity has surged in 2021, the availability of materials has become constrained. This has resulted in lead times lengthening and costs rising.” Significant shortages were identified in six key construction materials: steel, cement, timber, roof tiles, plasterboard and plastics.
The situation has been exacerbated by the fact that many private individuals and businesses decided that periods of lockdown offered the opportunity for alterations and extensions to property that would have caused unwanted disruption to activities in normal times. And unfortunately, there is little light to be seen at the end of this half-built tunnel.
Homebuilding & Renovating warned at the beginning of July that the current building crisis was set to continue for some time to come. A statement by the co-chairs of the Construction Leadership Council and the Builders Merchants Federation claimed that high demand coupled with tight supply will sustain elevated prices throughout the year. “The overall product availability picture has not changed. Demand both in the UK and globally continues to dramatically outstrip supply and shows few signs of slowing during the seasonally busy summer months.”
So why didn’t this important national news story gain extensive national news coverage? Where were the national media journalists and broadcasters willing to report and advise on a nationwide problem affecting industry, commerce and the general public?
A cost in credibility
Editorial decision making is a difficult process, especially when choices have to be made on stories generated nationally and globally. The pandemic has also quite rightly used up many column inches, online space and broadcasting time. Those tasked with editing content have to determine whether releasing a story is in the public interest and also whether it is interesting to the public.
Nevertheless, this building materials shortage plainly ticks both boxes, because it affects a huge range of people and industry sectors, from families that wish to increase their living areas by building an extension to major construction projects on which jobs and national prosperity may depend. Relative editorial silence on this major issue is therefore baffling.
A lesson for business
In order to reinforce their credibility and relevance, businesses also need to show that they are abreast of issues that concern us. The online environment gives them huge potential target audiences available for presenting their opinions and policies, based on developments both in their industry sector and in the public domain.
Building positive brand awareness and customer loyalty depends to a large extent on businesses demonstrating their appreciation of events that affect the public and communicating empathetic and perceptive messaging in response to them. Taking an extreme and highly unlikely case as an example, any company that totally ignores the presence of the Covid-19 pandemic in its promotions and communications could hardly expect to gain much public trust in the products and services it offers.
A quest for relevance
Back in January, we gave an overview of what we predicted would be the “2021 Social Media Trends”. These included the increased emergence of social consciousness among consumers, and we observed: “Being able to understand your audience is an important factor to success on social media. 2020 showed how a younger audience is bringing their feelings to social media platforms which companies may want to be aware of. Hootsuite’s social trends report stated that:
“Between the economic and emotional fallout of COVID-19, the uprising against racism and police brutality, and climate change fuelling historic wildfires across Australia and North America, marketers were under significant pressure to publicly address issues that their organisations had never focused on or were only beginning to align with.”
However, we advised that any move by businesses that could be seen as leaping on a bandwagon, whether political or otherwise, can be dangerously counterproductive: “It would be wise not to use social issues as a gimmick to increase brand awareness online and any desire to do so should be treated with caution. Pepsi made this mistake with an ill-advised advert launched in 2017. They quickly realised their mistake and the ad was taken down soon after release.”
The need for perceptive judgement
It is important that businesses are discerning in the topics they seize upon and the causes they espouse, and BBI Brandboost believes that in the main they should be in some way connected to its operations and/or the activities and interests of its customers. However, a subject like the shortage of building materials mentioned earlier has a very wide interest and there would be numerous opportunities for companies to take it up, particularly on social media, either on a corporate level or via the personal accounts of its spokespeople.
With our long experience and expertise in the strategic application of opinion forming messaging across multiple marketing, PR and social media channels, the BBI Brandboost team has the capabilities to build positive brand awareness at this critical time when Covid-19 restrictions are progressively unravelling. Please get in touch to discover the many ways we could support your specific online communications as the pulse of business quickens - and the competition for online visibility intensifies - as the pandemic emergency recedes.