By Faith Hutson
It's no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted almost every aspect of life as we know it–and public relations is no exception. Since quarantine began in March, PR professionals have faced ever-changing challenges and circumstances while dealing with “the new normal”. Many people are no longer doing the typical every-day activities, let alone leaving their homes. This confinement has not only uprooted daily life, but also the trusted PR channels and methods used prior to the pandemic.
So how can you ensure that your PR is effective during this time?
Figure out which channels of media have the highest engagement. Quarantine has caused a notable shift in the media-intake among virtually everyone. With the majority of people stuck inside, the levels of digital media consumption are skyrocketing. TV usage has increased 48%, internet surfing has increased 52%, and others alike such as social network, online video, and website usage has increased anywhere from 41% to 44%. Even non-digital channels such as newspapers and magazines have seen a steady increase. That being said, now is the time to direct PR right into consumers’ homes. Earned media has become an increasingly popular method during the pandemic because of this reason, as it helps reach a brand’s audience on a more personal level, as well as establishes the brand as trustworthy. Earned media is also a good route in the event that PR/advertising budgets are being cut due to the pandemic-driven economic downturn.
Get to know new digital formats and platforms.
Professionals in the digital sector have suggested that the pandemic has played a significant role in speeding up the digital transformation of media. Brands are starting to dive into new facets of the digital world, broadening their reach by, for instance, creating podcasts, or launching live streams. Though the media is changing in ways that will allow brands to reinvent their relationship with consumers, it is crucial that PR professionals are ready to take on this challenge, and are knowledgeable of the nature of these particular communication channels. Understanding that a brand’s presence on a platform like TikTok will look much different from its presence on a website is essential to reach the right audiences.
Make kindness a priority.
The pandemic has not been easy for anyone. People are lonely, stressed, and in need of someone who listens. Rather than ignoring the pandemic’s effects, make them a main component of the message. Conveying a sense of sensitivity, care, and patience to the audience will allow the brand to build trust and loyalty.
How Covid-19 changed Earned Media & PR Web. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://kantar.turtl.co/story/how-covid-19-changed-earned-media-and-pr-web-uk/page/5/1?tease r=yes
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We can't wait to see you at the district conference in April!