Impact of the Pandemic on the PR industry
11 Dec 2020
As the pandemic lingers and continues to hold the world in its clutch, companies across the board are forced to adapt to the new normal and change how they do business and communicate with their audiences. Star Squared PR a leading digital PR agency weighs in on the pros and cons of engaging with the media through the pandemic.
In this volatile environment, communications to both internal and external audiences have become more complicated than ever. Company leaders are realizing that they can’t fall back on the usual forms, tone and frequency of their media engagement. On the other hand, one of the questions communication professionals are thinking through is how to engage with the media or, whether to engage at all.
The good news is that while we are operating in a new framework, when it comes to media relations, fundamental rules remain intact:
We see the national and local media have dedicated most of their reporters to cover the pandemic. They’re covering the story round the clock across sectors, as individuals seek more information regarding the pandemic constantly. By all accounts, news directly related to the pandemic are preferred by the reporters and editors. Almost everyone is a coronavirus reporter now.
Business media is focused on the economic fallout from the crisis and its implications for global markets, individual companies, industries, and people’s finances. Whereas, trade media has more appetite for non-virus-related stories; so does lifestyle/consumer media, where people shot for entertainment and distraction during this stressful time. However, even for these types of publications, the threshold for coverage is much higher right now.
The pandemic is a vast and a sensitive topic, and demand for relevant and useful content is endless. Even communications with the best of intentions can damage a brand’s reputation. It is, therefore important for brands to stay within the company’s area of expertise, and avoid making tenuous links between the industry and the coronavirus. It is highly advisable to not try and make a connection where there is none. Journalists and their readers are intelligent enough to know what the brand is up to. There have been many instances in the recent past where journalists have tweeted and commented expressing anger over the influx of press releases from companies trying to connect themselves to the current news agenda. One of the journalists said she is saving these press releases for future reference – brands and PRs she will not work with again. Hence, tone and relevance are important.
This crisis is a human tragedy affecting millions of people on multiple levels and media houses are looking to provide their audiences with practical, informative and action-oriented content. To be able to find right opportunities, it’s important to be creative, updated with the latest trends, stay on top of new developments and know stories that allow your company to join the conversation in an authentic way.
Here are four tips any small-business owner or entrepreneur may implement in order to improve their brand reputation and generate new leads. Premier agencies like Star Squared PR embrace a range of creative strategies to promote brands as well.
If there are no ready opportunities for proactive outreach, we need to keep in mind that things change, and they change fast. Each day brings new story opportunities for those who keep on top of news and stay one step ahead.
The transition to a normal life will be gradual, so the consistency in monitoring developments and anticipate news cycle opportunities is a must.
The pandemic has greatly impacted personal and professional lives of all, and that includes reporters as well. It’s important to empathize with them right now. This will go a long way.
Journalists also have family and friends whose lives have been toppled. Almost all of them are working from home and are under more stress than usual, as many media houses have started to cut or furlough staff due to the crisis. Their deadlines are tighter and their attention is harder to get.
With so many people falling sick and companies laying off, it is vital to be ready to address incoming questions from reporters. It is suggested to have holding-statements for all potential scenarios and think through tough questions well in advance.
This is also a good time for companies to head into their direct communication and tell their story through company’s social media handles including, video or blogs on the corporate site, and emails to customers. That way they can continue to reach target audiences without solely waiting for the news environment to normalize.
How companies communicate during this crisis could impact how the world – including the media – will see them for years to come. For that reason, considerations related to brand reputation should be the main drivers for the next half yearly corporate media relations strategy. Companies that demonstrate leadership, add value and build human connections will find opportunities that outlast the pandemic.
About the Author: Ratula Acharjee is a Senior Account Manager at Star Squared PR. She is a communication professional with over 5 years of experience. She is a masters in Mass Communication and has worked with premier brands such as Unacademy, Oliveboard, St. Geroge’s University, Imarticus, etc.