Founder of Panpathic Communications, Chantal Cooke, gives advice on honing your PR strategy during this challenging time for business…
For the last few weeks, many businesses have been fire-fighting: making provision for team members working from home; analysing the various forms of government help and evaluating how best it can be applied in our individual organisations; projecting the immediate and the longer-term financial impacts.
When PR moves up the list of priorities will vary. For some businesses, it is vital to maintain profiles right now, for others it is wiser to let the dust settle. But whatever the timing, whatever the budget, sooner or later, you’ll want to get out the message that you are ready to provide services and/or products.
Should you be finding time to think about and plan this now? Absolutely. Here’s why: Here’s why you need to focus on PR and start planning now:
People are listening
Radio audiences have gone up considerably. And online publications have also seen their readership increase dramatically.
Journalists are listening
Journalists are well set up for working from home and are looking for relevant content ideas. With fewer press releases coming in, they’re more receptive to those they receive.
If, a few months ago, you felt that you were a small fish in a big pond now your pond is far emptier. You are more of a catch.
We have been through economic uncertainty before and similar patterns are found. Amongst the most notable is that businesses that can and do invest in PR at the time of a crisis almost always fare better in the longer term.
Analysis of crises also reveals the same three phases.
The 3 crisis phases
Here is what you should be doing at each point of the current crisis and why.
Phase 1: crisis is happening
Unless you’re at the frontline of the news, there is no a vast amount you can do here, other than offering advice and consolation. Make your contribution relevant and sensitive.
For example, If you have a product that is particularly relevant do make sure people know about it.
To be clear, this is not about profiteering. Most people are stuck at home and, if your product or service can benefit them, let them know about it. If you can afford it, help them out by offering as much of a discount as possible. This is the right time to be helping others.
Phase 2: the end is in sight
At this stage, the end of lockdown and the crisis is close. From a PR perspective this time is critical.
The pond is getting busier. If you have been visible (for the right reasons) during phase 1, then you will be in a much stronger position; you will have the profile of a bigger fish. You need to maintain and grow your position, which means keeping up your PR efforts with as much helpful advice-based content as possible.
If you have been quiet during phase 1, then it is important to start making yourself visible again.
Phase 3: the recovery phase
While things are not quite how they used to be people are back working and can live lives that feel normal: eating out; getting a haircut. People are customers again.
Businesses will resume spending their marketing budgets. For those business profiles that disappeared, budgets will have to work far harder to gain traction. But those that were present throughout the previous stages will have acquired big fish status.
A resource that is likely to have increased is time. Invest some of it working on PR ideas: get some practical advice on the PR process and how to implement it. If you have the budget, appoint a good, reliable agency, and if money is tight, look to do what you can yourself. Something is almost always better than nothing.
As we move through the crisis it is vital to use the time wisely and plan for the future. Get ready for the next phase.
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