The Role of PR during Covid-19
It’s a sad truth that PR and marketing are often the first services to be cut from a business’ expenditure during tough times.
Decisions to reduce wages and furlough staff aren’t taken lightly, but we would urge companies to think long and hard before cutting comms expenditure completely.
Failure to stop, think and communicate effectively has already left many companies worse for wear. We’ve witnessed first-hand the resulting mess that some brands are now in by failing to communicate well.
A prime example is retail tycoon Mike Ashley, who declared Sports Direct an ‘essential’ store that should remain open to serve the public’s fitness needs. He eventually u-turned and issued a public apology after mounting pressure.
Ashley will likely see future sales dip as a result of his callousness towards his staff and the public. People aren’t quick to forget and companies that handled comms poorly will likely fall to the wayside when ‘normal’ life returns.
By comparison, we’ve also seen instances of positive PR. Notable examples include Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, donating $1bn to the relief efforts in the US (equating to 28% of his wealth); Mark Zuckerberg donating $30 million to boost treatment research; and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos donating $100 million to US food banks.
It’s on this basis that we reassure our clients, both current and future, that we are on hand to counsel them on what constitutes effective communications during this tricky time and once restrictions are lifted.
PRs are inherently tough. We adapt, we learn new skills, we’re flexible and work hard to ensure our client’s best interests are our priority. PR is one of the most versatile service sectors out there: big ideas and creativity flow even in the most unprecedented times.
We know what the media are looking for, we closely follow trends in the news and in culture, and maintain a strong understanding of relevant audiences at a global level, and all the way down to micro niches.
Bearing in mind that British journalists are a fiercely critical and tough audience (and rightly so), we’re well versed in effective media relations as we liaise with press daily. As PRs we know our role is to provide the right information, in a timely manner. We can’t buy our way into the press; we don’t pay for coverage.
Because of this, we know coverage success is all about effective communication.
This isn’t about being ‘fluffy’, glossing over the truth, spin doctoring or any attempt to hoodwink, but is about crafting the right messages to the right audience.
PR professionals know what is right and wrong and can help steer a company to their most ethical selves. We know how to communicate with media, stakeholders and company employees. We get under the skin of our clients to understand what they need and how to communicate messages effectively.
We’re a resilient and optimistic bunch and when global lockdowns are lifted, we know more people than ever will be searching for things to do, see, buy and explore, and everyone will be competing at once to be front of mind when that day comes.
We also know the way we travel will change forever as a result of the present situation.
We predict that eco-travel options – already on an upwards trajectory – will only increase as more of us think twice about cheap flights and look to non-flight travel options. As a result of this, we know it will be more important than ever for airlines to demonstrate the great strides they are already taking to improve the environmental impact of aviation.
However, without effective comms, the long-lasting effects on brand reputation will continue (for better or worse) long after the situation has abated.
This is an opportunity to take stock of what’s happening and prepare for the future. PR and comms can and should form a vital part of a brand’s strategy and we’re ready to rise to the challenge.
PR is an ever-changing landscape, but certain aspects will always remain. We love what we do, we get a kick out of great coverage, we thrive on building relationships with media and finding out what works for them, we see ourselves as extensions of our client’s team, and we’re on hand to advise and guide brands through this new world.