2021 PR Lessons from COVID-19
In March 2020, the United States declared the coronavirus a national emergency. Soon enough, other countries across the world followed suit and went into full-scale lockdown. With all the changes that the world has undergone in a year, it’s safe to say that most companies weren’t prepared for all the changes that would follow.
The PR industry has not escaped the changes that came with COVID-19. For years, PR companies have preached to their clients about the need to prepare for crises and emergencies. In 2020, the need for change was made clear.
Over the last year, the PR sector had to update its strategies to align with the new guidelines and stay at the forefront of the ever-shifting media narrative. With every briefing about the coronavirus comes a new lesson for the professionals in the PR industry. Here are three lessons PR professionals have had to learn.
1. Take time to plan
The coronavirus took the whole world by storm. Most sectors didn’t prepare to handle such a global crisis effectively. While it can be taxing to handle a pandemic, PR professionals need to take a step back and evaluate their situation.
Don’t let panic take over. Take your time to plan effectively for any form of emergencies. Now that we have a global crisis under our belt, we are more prepared for another, and we know what to expect in case we find ourselves facing another pandemic in the near future.
2. Understand how digital platforms work
Before the pandemic, the use of digital platforms was left for the secondary needs of various companies. When the health crisis hit, companies found themselves having to move their operations from in-person events, meetings, and interviews. Everyday interactions that occurred in offices now moved to virtual platforms.
While Zoom had not been essential before, now it is the center stage for all business communications. The pandemic has proven that the value of Zoom and other digital platforms like Facebook Live can’t be dismissed or understated. The pandemic has shown that it is never too early to become technologically-savvy and updated with new trends.
Whenever a crisis hits, a lot of time would be wasted teaching staff how to use a digital platform, download a video chat system, or install various platforms. As a PR company, it is best to try and stay ahead of the hard times before or if they happen because it seems virtual is here to stay.
3. Empathy never runs out of style
As a PR company, the first thing to keep in mind is people come first. It doesn’t matter if the world is battling a global health crisis, people should always come first. The best way to do that is to:
Keep your communications straightforward and accurate
People are already dealing with having to listen to lengthy briefings about the pandemic. Now isn’t the time for your company to post long posts. Focus on what your customers care about and keep the communication straightforward and accurate.
Be helpful and let your audience know you care
We are all battling a health crisis and are worried about its effects on our lives. However, it isn’t the right time to focus on the sales rhetoric. Instead, try providing helpful information and assistance to ensure your clients and staff stay safe. It doesn’t mean that you stop doing business. It just means that you have to dial down the sales speak.
Make information easily accessible
Create a reliable platform that will ensure your clients and staff are updated. Contact clients through email or post on multiple social media platforms.
Always be truthful
Currently, customers are worried about how the situation will look for them. Don’t contribute to escalating fear. Instead, be positive—without downplaying the facts or passing false information along to clients or staff members.
Put a hold on the self-promotion
Once a crisis hits, it is best to stop self-promotion and focus on the bigger picture. If you ignore the problem and continue promotions, you’ll risk insensitivity or appear tone-deaf. An excellent way to do this is to pause any product launches.
If there are products you had planned to launch, set them for a later date. Always take a step back and reexamine campaigns to ensure you remain sensitive to the ongoing issues.
Also, silence isn’t an option. Silence allows your audience to fill in the blanks for themselves—sometimes incorrectly. By staying silent about what is happening, you’re making a statement about where you stand.
For us, putting people first is our top priority. At Nichols Public Relations, we do all we can to provide our customers with the help they need and take steps ensuring we build trust with clients.
Through our years of experience and research, we work to present your company’s business to the world in an honest manner. If you’d like to learn more, send me a note at email@example.com.
Maggie Bakle - PR Specialist
Smart, experienced and extremely dedicated to her clients, Maggie Bakle is a strong believer in the power of PR. A Fort Wayne native, she holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Indiana University and a master’s degree in public relations at Michigan State University. Before joining Nichols in 2017, she earned valuable experience in public relations and using social media to promote clients during a stint with another Fort Wayne agency. She’s also a member of the Public Relations Society of America.
Her level of experience, knowledge and expertise makes her a force to be reckoned with in the Fort Wayne market, a place she believes is positioned to become a real powerhouse in the Midwest.