Communication changes induced by the covid-19 crisis: an exploration of the communication of cameroonian companies
Covid-19 will have been an unprecedented crisis in the history of humanity. It has pushed economic agents, in particular companies, to reinvent themselves to adapt to this unprecedented reality. The objective of this research is to decipher the strategic changes made by companies in terms of communication during the Covid-19 pandemic, and to show that these changes have led to emerging communication choices that are in conflict with current theoretical understandings of corporate communication, especially crisis communication. After an hybrid analysis of the content of Cameroonian companies' communications during the pandemic and eight interviews with leaders, the research highlights five strategic changes: the prioritization of institutional communication over commercial communication, in particular highlighting the CSR dimension; the development of digital communication; the hybrid or integrated communication strategy that eliminates the theoretical dichotomy between commercial and institutional communications; the strategy of renunciation or silence observed in companies that have chosen, out of ethical considerations, not to communicate about their products and services during the crisis and the latent opportunistic communication strategy adopted by some companies to promote services, in particular digital, which they had difficulty getting customers to adopt during normal periods. The originality of this research lies in the fact that it highlights the emerging communication strategies during the Covid-19 crisis, strategies different from those implemented during the usual crises that companies are experiencing and for which they have learned to communicate. With regard to the Covid-19 crisis, companies have had to make unusual communication choices that the current theory had not foreseen. Professionals can find in this research a source of inspiration in terms of communication in the context of atypical crises. A limitation of this research lies in the fact that the observation of a larger population of companies as part of a deductive research can contribute in a more relevant way to the enrichment of the theory.
Keywords: Covid-19, Crisis communication, business communication, communication changes, emerging communication.
JEL Classification : M31
Paper type: Empirical research
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