What will PR look like in a post COVID world?
While juggling multiple campaigns at the same time, managing demanding clients and squeezing things in before deadlines, public relations (PR) isn’t always the easiest job. Throw a global pandemic in the mix and suddenly, it’s uncharted territory. Yet, with clients looking to us for guidance and support for the best way forward, it’s often our jobs to come up with the right answer. Luckily, we’re a quick-thinking, creative bunch that can find solutions even in the trickiest of situations. For the moment, COVID-19 has pressed paused or permanently cancelled almost all the events and campaigns that we and our clients had previously planned. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how we will need to adapt or change to better fit the new, post COVID world. What will PR in this new world look like? Keep reading to see our thoughts…
Focus on digital
If your lockdown habits haven’t already made it clear to you, it’s obvious that there has been a new emphasis on digital. As a non-physical yet easily accessible method of communication, the digital realm will continue to be a prominent feature not only in the way we work and organise our teams, but also in how to organise and manage future campaigns. With the fear of catching the corona virus still very real, even as the curve flattens and restrictions are eased, people will still prefer to spend most of their time at home and connect with the outside world via digital means. Paired with the negative impact that COVID-19 is having on many physical publications that were already increasingly strained, especially the magazine industry, it makes sense that the online world will continue to be a priority when it comes to marketing and publicity. In fact, Time Out, on online publication, has reported increased engagement and interest in their content from their readers, and The Guardian has reported a 54% surge in top news websites in March 2020. Considering this, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more companies and businesses allocating more of their marketing and PR budget to online platforms. Whether this extends to launches and events being hosted online, and how that will be managed, will be interesting to see.
Transparency and trust
In times of crisis, misinformation and conspiracy theories often run rife. COVID-19 has been no different with social media platforms, like YouTube and Whatsapp, even cracking down on blocking the spread of such content. In an environment such as this, businesses and PR agencies will have to be more careful than ever about they frame and deliver their messaging. We’ve always believed that honesty about your product or services in PR campaigns is the best way to win customers over, however a new level of transparency will be a top priority to consumers in a post-pandemic world. More than before, it will be crucial to have all the facts before publicising information. Not only that, but striking a balance between pushing sales and keeping the focus on campaigns, whilst maintaining sensitivity to the surrounding climate of crisis will have a large impact on how brands will be perceived by the public.
More Contingency Plans
PR professionals have always been good at thinking on our feet, but not even we could have prepared for the corona virus or really know what to expect in the aftermath. After all, who can really determine whether there will be a second or multiple waves of the virus that will cause the world to shut down again? As such, we may have to place more contingency plans for PR campaigns in the near future, with both short term strategies and long term preparations in place. The key will be to stay flexible and dynamic, so that a campaigns maximum success can be reached – no matter what the external circumstances.
Crisis has always been a time for a revival in innovation. Just look at the plethora of starts ups that came out of the recession of 2008-2010, including Uber, Slack, Airbnb, WhatsApp and Pinterest. Given that lockdown has given many of us more time to pursue personal projects, we have no doubt that we will once again see an innovation boom post COVID. Our role as marketers and PR professionals will be to stay open-minded and see what new and exciting services and products we can help share with the world!
Thinking about running a PR campaign soon? Here are some questions to ask yourself while you prepare:
- Is this story relevant to the times? How so?
- Is your pitch and its wording sensitive to external circumstances?
- Will your story still be applicable if circumstances, like travel or patron restrictions, change? If so, how can you adjust your pitch to still be relevant?
- Are you sending this press release to the right publications and stakeholders?
- Did the publications you’re targeting pivot during COVID-19? Are they still publishing similar stories?
- Is this a GOOD time to be servicing this information to publications?
- Is the editor/ contributor you’re sending this to still at the publication?