Watch Now: Communication In Post-Pandemic America

As post-pandemic America slowly starts to open again and resume some sort of normalcy, Haute Living interviewed the experts in Public Relations to get some insight on what they are doing to assist their clients in navigating their re-integration into the market place, what they foresee and what solutions they have implemented.

Lauren Gnazzo, President for Gnazzo Group, Nick D’Annunzio, Principal at Tara Ink., and Sissy DeMaria, President of Kreps DeMaria and Cultivate Founder discussed life post quarantine, strategy and what’s next. Watch the webinar below.

How have you had to pivot the business?

Nick D’Annunzio:  Creating a new message while maintaining sensitivity. Everyone is handling this very differently. And we can’t over promote something or over publicize something because then it becomes insensitive in the eyes of the consumer and the media. It’s more about feelings and my motto is, there’s no right or wrong with feelings. You know, we’re not doing Trunk Shows at a store or in-person product launches, or tastings at a restaurant. We’re doing zoom tastings and we’re doing Zoom Trunk Shows and conversations and panels. We are here to help our clients… I think we’ve all been through Zika, Hurricanes, recessions, and 9/11 – so we’ve been through a lot, especially in Miami.

Would you say that the definition of luxury has shifted during this time?

Lauren Gnazzo:  Absolutely… starting early as March and there are huge unknowns in the fashion industry and all different industries and sectors. This has really disrupted the global economy like ways we’ve never seen before, at least in my generation. For luxury brands, especially the global conglomerates will be largely in the hands of these players to re-shape the industry of the future, starting now. And it really starts with the customer that they have to take into consideration. When discretionary income is constrained for the majority of the consumers, it tends to push people down the price ladder. Brands have been analyzing how China has performed the first day that the market was opened in April. Hermes did 2.7 million dollars in sales and showed signs of a soft recovery, so there’s no right or wrong answer. You can’t create a six months strategy from now, because if we face a second wave you have to adapt therefore we are focusing on a 3 month view. For luxury brands, you’ll see on Instagram, the messages are not about pushing product.  It’s not about luxury or expensive messages; it’s really going back to their roots, back to craftsmanship. We will see old campaigns that are shedding light on the history of the house and their DNA and the roots and even a lot of destinations in Miami are doing that…We’re not pushing luxury, we’re pushing art and beautiful attributes of that company, brand or neighborhood. You have to be very, very sensitive one wrong move can really upset a lot of people. You have to be very compassionate, whether you’re a global luxury brand leader or whether you’re a small local business.

Sissy DeMaria:  I think that luxury is always evolving. If you think back 30 years ago they introduced the class to Mercedes. There was always the S class, but they started introducing other lines and so luxury continued to evolve. I think right now it’s under more scrutiny than ever. There’s definitely a class divide that’s taking place. And if brands make any missteps, they’re going to be really on called out and criticized. Sustainability is the new luxury and how brands are coming back to nature and health, all of that is resonating now more than ever, than the actual purchase. I think the experiential marketing aspect of it is more important than ever because anyone can buy anything with a computer in front of them and order something immediately, but they can’t have that experience so I think there are some companies that are really going to be positioned well in the future because of the pandemic. Think about the private aviation business, now for the first time they’re getting new customers that they would never have gotten before.  People don’t want to go into those high touch turnstiles of an airport, even if its first class they are still with a lot of other people and having to go through checkpoints. Yachting has been on the upswing too because people are realizing they want to be with family.  and want to be in a clean, healthy environment outside of the city. We’re hearing from jewelry companies that you’re seeing people purchase jewelry because it’s a celebration of life. There’s this pent up demand and people have been under this austerity and isolation. Now, they’re going to come back and want to live and they’re still going to go back to these heritage brands.

How do you guys see the next that reopening strategy for your clients?  What’s the messaging?

Nick D’Annunzio:  We’re in such a unique position in South Florida. There have been so many wonderful stories that the number one destination for New Yorker is Miami. Travel leisure did the story that the number one most Googled or searched destination is Miami. You know the Northeast is not going to be habitable, especially in New York, it’s gonna be really hard and it is hard to live there right now. That’s a big opportunity for our hotels, restaurants, retail and our real estate market who are seeing tremendous numbers and rentals and sales going up… We all say we’re a year-round city now, but we know it kind of gets quiet in the summer. But I do feel that we’re going to have a lot of amazing people in Miami this summer staying in beautiful homes, renting amazing yachts and staying in Suites in hotels or we’re renting rooms a month or two months at a time, it’s really an interesting time. This is like nothing that Miami has seen and I always feel like this city gets it, and it bounces back. This is a Magic City and things really do work well here for others. And I always tell people when they come here, Miami’s the land of golden opportunity. You can make anything happen here where its harder to do in other parts of the country or the world. And so I’m so happy that our hotels, restaurants, retail, Design District and Bal Harbour Shops are open. It’s great.

Lauren Gnazzo:  I think it’s important when you start reopening to really keep expectations low, remain humble, and be very clear in communicating about an opening from a PR standpoint. Throughout this entire time, readers want to hear not only what brands and companies are doing to protect their customers, but also their employees. That was a factor in every single case study. When we talk about reopening it’s about really making people feel comfortable when they’re ready. The Miami Design District is designed to be open-air and spacious neighborhood and a great place for the community to begin to re-engage after being isolated. We don’t face the challenges of other destinations. Any re-opening communications should lightly and sensitively encourage people: hey we’re open when you’re ready, come by. We’ll be happy to see you around while doing so in a safe way.

Do you think Miami is at an advantage post-pandemic?

Sissy DeMaria:  It’s such a young city. I can remember years ago going to meet with editors in New York when the JD of the Marriott Marquis was opening in Downtown Miami and I was talking about our new Performing Arts Center that was going to be built and the media looked at me like I was crazy. Why would anybody from New York, go to Miami for culture? Well, since that time we’ve become the art capital of the world. With our exciting work that happens in our performing arts centers, the city has changed so much. Now we have that culture that we didn’t have.  We didn’t have the world-class restaurants that we have now if you look back 15 years ago. All of these things and the no state income tax! And the welcome environment for diversity from people from all over the world. You know, Miami is one of the most international cities on the planet. We are just poised to really benefit from this because we have world-class healthcare. So people from South America are coming and thinking. ‘You know, I’m going to put my money in Miami, not just because of political unrest where home is but because it’s a healthy place and there’s great education. So all of these things are aligning to really move Miami to a degree and a level that I think it’s never seen before. We’re really going to benefit… We benefit from not having that mass public transportation that high density. Our streets and city is clean and our sidewalks are clean. I think that the value proposition in Miami has never been more and I think that our city is going to be a place for dramatic growth… it’s our moment. We’re going to come through with this. Our death rate is very low compared to the rest of the country. I think Miami has got the message and I really credit our Mayor for doing his regular broadcast talking about Covid-19 and urging people to stay home. Young people are getting it. I’m not fearful of the second wave, I believe we will have a vaccine. I believe you’ll have to learn from the lessons of this pandemic. It came upon us like lightning. We’ve never seen anything like this… But I am optimistic.

Lauren Gnazzo, Nick D’Annunzio, Sissy DeMaria webinar
Lauren Gnazzo, Nick D’Annunzio, Sissy DeMaria