“The health and safety of our staff and customers is our top priority during this unprecedented period.”
“We have implemented strict new business conditions as we deal with this pandemic and remain focused on you, our customers.”
How many times have you read or heard statements like these from businesses in the past few weeks?
From a PR perspective, all this type of messaging is the bare minimum that any of us would expect from the trusted brands we engage with in our everyday lives.
Getting the basics covered is very important but what comes next?
Businesses need to keep trading where possible and everyone is trying to find smart ways to pivot marketing strategies to match the rapidly changing environment.
Here are some PR and content tips to help ensure your brand survives:
1. Think Longer Term
Brands that stand out for their responsiveness and compassion will be remembered. If sales are falling or your product or service has temporarily lost all relevance, focus on building brand equity – a primary function of PR – so you’re in the box seat when circumstances improve.
2. Expand Your Storytelling
We know that more people are online than ever before, and that news consumption is soaring. Make the most of this opportunity with strategic and proactive PR campaigns and escalate content creation for your own digital channels. With a captive audience, there will never be a better time to grow your audience.
3. Tell the Right Stories
Sensitivity and community are paramount. Show the human side of your brand without being boastful. Involve customers and advocates in your storytelling. Ask questions and offer solutions.
4. Be Nimble
Things are changing very quickly so your content and marketing material should be easy to update or replace. Words and images can be edited in seconds. Expensive, slick videos might be out of date when delivered in 4 weeks’ time.
5. Be Quick
Speed up your internal approval processes so you can get content out to your different audiences while it is most relevant. Ensure online content, especially video, doesn’t take too long to load because it won’t be much good if internet speeds slow down.
6. Pay Close Attention
Everything you produce will be viewed through the COVID-19 lens so don’t ignore it. Likewise, don’t overdo the empathy and handwringing. Check that your pre-scheduled activity is still suitable.
7. Try Something New
A quick pivot from a physical event to an online event is an obvious move so everyone is doing it. Help your event to stand out with a pre-recorded teaser, giveaways, or a ‘surprise guest’. Don’t overcomplicate the technology as not everyone is an IT guru.
Who would have imagined that Coles, Woolworths, ALDI, IGA and Foodworks would take out joint press advertisements asking shoppers to be considerate? Think about whether there are out-of-the-box opportunities for your business and industry to collaborate for the benefit of your customers.
9. Connect People
The news is peppered with feel-good stories about the innovative ways people are finding to remain connected in the new era of self-isolation and social distancing. What can you do to help people connect? Could your business or project Facebook page be used to encourage grocery swapping or donations?
10. Play It Safe
There are some great coronavirus jokes going around! These might be perfect for Zoom workplace banter or texting friends but don’t trying to be too clever and avoid appearing frivolous in your business communications. Along with the brands who shine, people will also remember any that made tasteless mistakes.
In tough times like these, PR is the muscle that will help to keep your organisation moving. And compared with other marketing activity, PR is also the most cost-effective tool in your arsenal.
Having access to a skilled PR team with real newsroom experience and great storytelling skills will ensure your content stands out from the crowd. It will also be instrumental in protecting your reputation, helping you navigate a safe path through this crisis, and getting ready for the future.