Students help 100 local brands adjust to COVID-19 - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Students help 100 local brands adjust to COVID-19

27 May 2020

Chef-cooked meals delivered to your door, live-streamed music gigs and home workouts are all signs of brands adjusting well to COVID-19 restrictions, says a USC Australia social media expert.

Lecturer in Public Relations Dr Karen Sutherland said businesses that had pivoted to accommodate for pandemic restrictions while offering helpful online content were not only surviving, but connecting even better with their customers.

She said USC Social Media students had taken the same approach to help more than 100 local businesses adapt their social media strategies for free as part of their coursework. The strategies will be delivered to businesses at the end of semester in June.

“With most of the population staying at home, it quickly became important for businesses to adjust their offerings to help customers engage with their brand from home, and our students have been helping them plan how they will do just that,” Dr Sutherland said.

“By making it simple and convenient for people to buy online while maintaining social distancing, companies that may otherwise have been completely devastated by COVID, have instead been able to survive, and thrive, in new ways.”

She also said many were also using any downtime created by COVID to create helpful and empathetic content.

“A survey of 12,000 people, the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report found that 84% of respondents said they want content to focus on how to cope with pandemic-related life challenges,” Dr Sutherland said.

“Depending on your business, helpful content could be recipes from a cafe or restaurant, home workouts from a gym, or home treatments from a beauty therapist.”

Dr Sutherland said businesses also needed to remain agile and be ready to relaunch when restrictions ease.

“The pandemic has demonstrated that change can occur quickly, so I recommend creating a marketing communication strategy and having it ready to go as soon as the Government gives the green light,” she said.

Dr Sutherland – who is due to deliver social media classes online to students in the United States and academics in India - is also preparing several public events, including a live-streamed show on her LinkedIn account called Like, Share, Follow where she will interview USC graduates who studied social media.

The annual Social Media Networking Event will also be held online on Thursday 18 June with 20 prospective employers registered to meet USC social media students who are seeking paid freelance work.


Her upcoming book, Strategic Social Media Management: Theory and Practice is due for international release in late August 2020 by Palgrave Macmillan.

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