As life around us is shifting along with the impact of the virus, organisations have had to adapt their PR strategy around coronavirus. While being sensitive to what feels appropriate at this time, it has never been more critical to keep communicating; to deliver messages of reassurance and stability, and to keep audiences informed and supported when they need it most, yet also preparing for when ‘normal’ life returns.
It is especially important – and could be a missed opportunity – when news and social media consumption is soaring. Now is the time to review your PR strategy around coronavirus.
The PR strategy around coronavirus; where to begin
PR plans created pre-pandemic may still be relevant but, to avoid appearing tone-deaf or insensitive, they will need to be adapted and added to, and digital PR strategies will take precedence.
A useful starting point is to ask: what do our audiences need and how can we help them? The first step is to identify how your community is being affected by the global crisis and adapt your communications to meet their changing priorities. This is an opportunity to show brand purpose but it must also be handled carefully and authentically. Key brand messages may have to be put aside for now – a brand’s response to a crisis has the potential to shape consumer views for a very, very long time.
In the meetings and events industry, one organisation that has swiftly adapted an ongoing campaign is HBAA. This trade association for hotel and event booking agencies as well as 225 hotels and venues has totally changed its priorities since just before the UK coronavirus lockdown began. Focussing on the immediate needs of its members and their staff, the association immediately recognised a requirement for business management and mental health and wellbeing support. It has adjusted its expert content for a series of successful webinars and its PR strategy for coronavirus accordingly. HBAA has also increased its government lobbying activity, which is supported by a strong communications plan with a purpose to inform, educate, empower, unite and strengthen an industry behind a timely cause.
Travel risk intelligence specialists Riskline also adapted its PR strategy for coronavirus. Recognising the demand for factual information about the state of play on coronavirus country by country worldwide, it has created new frequent regular news updates on this topic which are shared with the media – and often published.
Organisations need to explore what else their audience may desire or need now and how your company can add value. Perhaps your brand can provide mood-boosting messages, motivation to keep fit, help with home-schooling and WFH, or entertainment and light relief to alleviate the boredom of self-isolation.
Don’t force it
Some brands have taken on the admirable responsibility of spreading the government’s prime messages: wash your hands, stay safe, stay home, save lives. This may be because they were struggling to find relevance in the current climate and feared a backlash if perceived as capitalising on a crisis. If this is the case for your business, don’t force it – you do not have to include coronavirus in your plans. In fact, we know journalists and readers who are crying out for a break from the surge of virus-related news and are actively seeking lighter stories.
Ultimately, now is not the time to go silent. Establishing and sustaining brand reputation, visibility and market competitiveness takes focus and perseverance. Now is the perfect time adapt your PR strategy and to build and pivot your brand’s story. Businesses that react appropriately and spend this time wisely will be among those that flourish during the challenging months ahead.
For more PR tips during the coronavirus crisis, see our latest blog: Five reasons why PR is more important than ever.
If you need a crisis management plan or help with B2B PR or consumer PR during the coronavirus crisis and beyond, or would simply like an objective view of your current content and digital PR strategies, please contact us at Clareville Communications by emailing [email protected] or calling +44 (0)207 736 4022