By Kristin Herman:
PR strategies may have worked for brands before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the pandemic still ongoing today, these once successful PR strategies might not be effective anymore. What can brands do?
That’s where crisis communication comes in!
Crisis communication is the key for brands to survive and thrive through the crisis, since it brings about flexibility and willingness to adapt to new ways of doing business. Now, the role of PR has shifted from press release distribution and mass pitching to a more refined and targeted approach; such approaches include storytelling and thought leadership, which are very effective nowadays.
While it’s uncertain whether the pandemic will subside or continue in the next few months, here are 6 strategies that can help change PR plans right now:
- Step Up And Lead
“Nowadays, it’s all about thought leadership,” says Chelsea Greeves, a project manager at Australian help and State of writing. “People want to still look up to their favorite brands, even during the pandemic, because their brands give them a sense of life before the pandemic. People want normalcy. Therefore, this crisis communication strategy of stepping up and positioning yourself as an expert on something you’re actually an expert on. However, don’t use the pandemic to milk some publicity out of your customers. Steer people away from the pandemic – give them that break from reality.”
When creating a thought leadership strategy, keep the following objectives in mind:
- What kind of solutions do you have for businesses in your industry?
- How might you ease people’s fears with your expertise?
- How can you lead your customers/viewers through the crisis?
- Embrace Digital Transformation
With more people working from home nowadays, now is the time to embrace digital transformation. Here’s how digital transformation can benefit people, especially during these hard times:
- Artificial intelligence brings practical utility to PR roles.
- Solutions from companies (i.e. Narrative Science and Automated Insights) are increasingly automating content creation.
- Insights from real-time data will be sharper and on-point.
As such, PR professionals must be ready to back up how well their PR strategy is working with quantitative data, especially at a time when many brands have a lean marketing and PR budget.
- Be Human
Did you know that only 70% online consumers say they trust influencers (or at least, their real-life friends), when it comes to trying new products? In other words, people want to see a human face to a brand. Even during the hard times, people will go to people and faces that they trust for comfort and normalcy. Plus, they want to hear real stories from real people more than they want to read meaningless quotes that are sprinkled aimlessly across dozens of websites and publications for the sake of being “relevant.”
Therefore, PR must curate a media presence in a strategic manner that emphasizes transparency, rather than portray a brand as a faceless company.
- Know Which Channels To Continue Or Discontinue
During a crisis, it’s likely that brands will discontinue certain channels, so that they can reach out to their audience more. Therefore, PR should be able to help make the right decisions about which channels to focus more on, and which ones to shut down.
- Utilize SEO
“Search engine optimization can help brands get the word out and be noticed online,” says Henry Turnbull, a business writer at Paper fellows and Boom essays. “Therefore, SEO should not be neglected, even when the pandemic is still ongoing. The more relevant SEOs that PR uses, the more people will see a brand’s legitimacy, and click on their links. All PR has to do is find a way to leverage SEO in a way that it dominates the search engine results pages (SERPs) for branded keywords, thus earning them backlinks.”
- Be The Hot Topic (Besides The Election)
Besides the pandemic, the 2020 Presidential Election is all the raves. However, COVID-19 and election coverage will dominate TV and editorial calendars, unless brands are able to squeeze in there just to reach out to their viewers.
In that case, PR pros must do one of the following:
- Become part of the hot topic(s), OR
- Offer something that gives people a break from COVID-19 and election coverage
Just ask yourself: What does your audience want to see right now?
As updates on COVID-19 continue to unfold, it’s important for PR pros to plan their next campaign with newer strategies. Even when the pandemic is over, PRs will at least have a new and effective strategy to gain more attraction.
About the Author: Kristin Herman writes and edits at Ukwritings.com and Academized.com. She is also a freelance blogger for Essayroo.com. As a tech enthusiast, she blogs about the latest trends on technology and SEO.