PR Communications and COVID-19

Coronavirus & PR: 6 Things Communications Professionals Should Do During COVID-19

If you work in communications or at a PR agency helping companies run their media campaigns, your job looks a whole lot different than it did a few weeks ago.

Everything is shutting down or going online-only, but the reality that many businesses face is that what they do now is more important than ever.

As PR professionals, you have the job to help these business owners and marketers make sure their livelihoods still thrive. You’ll be able to help get their important messages out, no matter the industry. Clients in healthcare, travel, food and beverage, education, or, well, basically any sector at this point, will need your assistance in their marketing campaigns.

Here are six things you can do to help during the COVID-19 crisis.

[Read more: Where does branded content fit into a media landscape dominated COVID-19?]

1. Adjust your messaging

Do you have sponsored content or Guaranteed Media Placements in the works? Connect with your distribution partner to start brainstorming ways to set a more helpful and appropriate tone.

Brandpoint’s Business Development Manager Annette Albrecht has already had many conversations with her PR partners and offers this advice: “Right now people don’t need more panic, they need support. Don’t send out an article that has an alarming headline like ‘Warning Signs Your Car Needs New Brakes,’ but instead make the story more positivity-focused, such as articles about keeping your family safe on the roads.”

Distributing an article that’s tone-deaf won’t help your consumers in this stressful time, and it could be damaging to your brand. Another example Annette gives relates to the lifestyle industry — “We shouldn’t be talking about party planning, but we can talk about creating meals from pantry staples.”

[Read More: The Do’s & Don’ts of Marketing During the Coronavirus]

2. Prepare for increased web traffic

Brands are now looking for a way to be relevant during this massive change in our daily living habits. Markets are responding quickly and adapting to this new normal.

Just think of what you’ve personally done or thought about during this time. Now that we’re social distancing and staying in our homes as much as possible, what kinds of things have you considered purchasing aside from living essentials? Books, movies, entertainment, education materials for your kids, at-home fitness gear … these are all things the entire world is looking for and web traffic will reflect that.

Work with marketing to uncover what they’re seeing in web traffic increases and what keywords are being searched. You’ll be able to focus your paid and PR campaigns around that.

[Read more: 6 Ways to pivot your MAT release message!]

3. Rely on targeting capabilities

The coronavirus is a pandemic that is affecting everyone in the world, which means the entire population is facing many different specific issues.

With Guaranteed Media Placement upgrades like Guaranteed Traffic, Guaranteed Section Front and Business Journals placements, you can zero in on the exact demographic that you need to reach. You can target by age, location, industry and more.

Some examples where targeting would be beneficial:

  • You’re a regional restaurant that wants to get the word out on drive-through and delivery options
  • You want to talk to working parents about at-home education options
  • Your financial institution wants to give advice to millennials on 401(k)s and the stock market

4. Be mindful of your ad campaigns

eMarketer has adjusted their global ad spend projections in light of the coronavirus outbreak from a 7.4% increase over 2019 to just a 7% increase. That difference entails around $20 billion.

Advertising is as important as ever, but with concerns over the economy, PR and communications professionals need to be careful where they put their budget.

Were you planning on launching an Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising campaign? Most of the entire world is self-isolating in their houses or apartments, so billboards, train station banners and bus stop ads probably won’t be as effective as focusing on TV or digital.

Take a look at your year plan, since this pandemic will be with us for longer than just a few weeks. What campaigns can you cut out or adjust? Where can you save money on physical advertising and transfer it over to be online?

5. Video, video, video

Video marketing will be the name of the game during COVID-19. Most all trade shows and conferences are canceled, and information is coming at us all times of the day. In addition, many people are looking for important information to be distilled down to easy-to-understand messages.

By creating video content to support your campaigns, you’ll be able to communicate effectively in a time when people are taking in information at a rapid rate.

Some video ideas:

  • An animated video explaining complicated subjects, such as financial advice or food safety
  • A live-stream webinar to replace a canceled trade show session, refocused to help your consumers during COVID-19
  • A live-action video of a thought leader at your company answering common questions

[Read More: How to Distribute Branded Video with the PESO Model]

6. Get your leaders involved

Speaking of leaders, now is the time for higher-up people within your organization to be heard. If you or your clients have experts that can share relevant knowledge, consider creating a video or a bylined thought leadership article to distribute.

Bylined thought leadership articles, once published on highly trusted media sites, can also be shared quickly on social media. Include their quotes, advice and plans of attack in these articles.

Showing that leaders in your company are paying attention to this serious situation will help personalize your client’s brand, adding a level of humanity and trust to any message.

This is a situation that we’re all experiencing for the first time. A week from now, the world will look even more different. Stay human. Be ready to help. And remember that you’re here to make sure your client’s business will stay productive and relevant during this time. Reach out today so we can help come up with a plan for your PR strategies.

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