In this year of disruption, communications leaders have been showcasing the value of PR and its role in upholding brand reputation. The pandemic has changed how we operate at levels, personally and professionally, and as business leaders we need to remain agile while ensuring health and safety are always the first priority. This has led to a large number of PR campaigns and announcements being put on hold. However, with COVID-19 dominating the daily news cycle with no end yet in sight, businesses need to pivot their brand narrative and PR messaging to remain relevant when the world has changed around them.
Understanding how to pivot strategy to the constantly changing situation is core to maintain brand relevance during COVID. We’ve outlined some tips for you to consider when adapting your plans.
Go ahead or cancel your campaigns: safety is the key
When is the right time to launch a campaign? Take into consideration the relevance to your audience during the pandemic. If the campaign has low relevancy, get creative and shift the campaign focus to a narrative that has a meaningful connection point to your audience’s current needs and sentiment. When it comes to launch, don’t just cancel; consider the multiple ways that you can make an impact through virtual or contactless audience engagement. Ensuring your brand maintains awareness and momentum is critical, however the safety of both consumers and your team must come first to ensure positive sentiment. Take a ‘keep calm and carry on’ approach by finding creative ways to deliver brand messages through your campaign approach.
Proactive or reactive: how to engage with your audience
Rethink your content strategy to prioritise relevant storytelling and build a loyal audience on your social and digital platforms. Think about the needs of your audience, such as ensuring your business hours and contact info are up to date, sharing tips on engaging with your brand safely or create a new content campaign that connects with new health trends and work from home scenarios. If you haven’t had time or budget to for website upgrades, social media content investments or building a strong digital marketing strategy in the past, it is now time to make that a priority. Simple messaging that spreads positive energy is also a good way to engage with your audience.
Virtual or in-person event? Understand what the media need
The most asked question by marketers this year is if they should still invest in an events strategy. Events have changed formats, and now more often than not are in the form of a virtual engagements or at home customised experiences. Due to the pandemic and the sudden adoption of remote work culture by both PR and media professionals, virtual press conferences are replacing in-person press events, and we believe this trend is here to stay. Talk to your media friends to get their feedback on attending virtual events. Are they able to write the stories they want? What does your brand need to do to stand out? With media facing huge challenges from reduced budgets and staffing, it’s important for PRs to do their research and pitch only relevant stories to keep media relationships strong. To make sure your brand spokespeople are prepared for the ‘new normal’ of media engagement, consider additional media training to prepare them for the new virtual event or interview.
Always have a Plan B
The need to cancel or postpone a campaign launch is a scenario we all need to get used to. It’s disappointing for the whole team, especially if it comes off the back of a long period preparation. We need much more than a ‘rainy day’ scenario, we need a whole new backup plan prepared. Always have a Plan B ready – and be prepared to carry it out.
Realign expectations: reset your KPIs
When you’re planning your strategy for 2021, it’s important to realign expectations across the team based on your learnings over the last year. Rethink PR strategies to be pandemic aware, and reset KPIs for achievable outcomes based on new formats and budgets.
With these tips in mind, build a robust PR strategy that maintains momentum, drives brand narrative and creates impactful results.