As the Coronavirus continues to change the world and businesses adjust to what is likely a new normal, the pandemic is reshaping not only the PR industry but others as well. Some companies are facing the COVID-19 outbreak with crisis planning, while others are using social media to enhance their presence and reach their target audience more effectively.
In fact, in a BuzzStream research study, 49% of PR professionals in our survey reported that clients reduced their PR budget as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, 21% increased their PR spending, signaling that some business owners understand how critical it is to communicate with customers in this current climate. Like everyone in business, public relations and communication sectors are rapidly evolving to successfully navigate the pandemic and the numerous guidelines which have come as a result.
For those in the PR agency, project work continues to evolve, as does a greater understanding of the importance of rapid response, favorable wording of present and future contracts, and the significance of social media.
Project work is nothing new in the PR world, but it has taken on new meaning in the time of the Coronavirus. Brands understand project work as a way of testing the waters with agencies before entering long-term contracts. Projects may be the new norm, with hard stops and restarts, as a motivator for brands and agencies to adjust for the future of their businesses.
Responding Quickly and Appropriately in Business
No one could have anticipated the importance of rapid response and the ability to adjust which came with the COVID-19 outbreak. While states, along with their businesses and organizations begin to reopen, uncertainty still abounds making economic forecasts somewhat grim. PR firms must rapidly adjust, to meet the needs of clients who need a quick turn around on proposals, projects, and more to win in the current environment. During this time of health and economic crisis, adjusting goals, projects, and pricing may be the difference for a brand’s survival.
This adaptability also brings the need for modifications to traditional contracts. PR agencies, considering the circumstances resulting from the Coronavirus should be altered to include aspects related to potential business reduction, closures, and the general uncertainty regarding a future outbreak. Adding in a clause of force majeure which releases both parties from the contract’s terms in the event of unforeseeable circumstances beyond their control, should be considered along with “out clauses” requiring additional notice required for ending contracts prematurely.
Social Media and the Reshaping of the PR Industry
The significance of social media in relation to business success has become more evident during the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses who paused their social strategy due to mandatory closure orders may find it challenging to regain momentum when life goes back to normal. A better tactic is planning and implementing social/digital activity now for the future.
Even if scheduling needs to be temporarily halted, it should only be done for a short period, and adjusted according to the latest current events. It is important to carry on your PR, ensuring appropriate and effective content is key. Keeping content fresh daily can be a solid strategy in the current fluidity of the times. Your social content must feature an awareness of public sentiment, while maintaining the needed level of relevance to your audience. For many this means daily, even hourly review of the latest events and sharing appropriate up-to-the-minute content.
While right now, the business forecast seems somewhat grim, but that will eventually end, and now is the time to implement new digital strategies to help your business now and well into the future. Planning and spending now on social media outlets can work to grow your brands base, while retaining your current following. As you share relevant content, your brand stays in view of current and potential customers who are still, for the most part, under safer-at-home guidelines.
When making plans, consider what you can share to successfully promote your business. For example:
- Restaurants and other businesses affected can offer gift cards and special promotions which can be redeemed when they reopen fully.
- Museums and art studios can give virtual tours and online art classes.
- Fitness centers might consider virtual classes on social media as well as private virtual coaching.
The goal is to keep customers and potential clients engaged and ready to support your business in person when the Coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
On social media if you are an entrepreneur with a small business, PR advice calls for acting locally with digital promotions and advertising. Let your customers know what you are doing to support the community – from supporting food banks to feeding displaced school children to providing supplies to local hospitals and first responders. If your business is a larger brand, you can follow suit on a large scale, and target advertising and promotion to local and regional areas as they make efforts to reopen safely and successfully.
Stay Safe and Keep Customers Engaged
Businesses in every industry will have to make changes to ensure the safety and wellbeing of employees and customers as the Coronavirus pandemic fades and communities reopen. Following community and government guidelines, discussing concerns openly, and communicating information transparently will ensure business continuity. In some businesses, it will mean reorganization and reallocation to navigate the needed changes successfully. For businesses that require employee-customer contact, it will mean providing appropriate safety and protective measures. Every step will require clear and engaging communication with your customers and potential clients.
Digital Platforms – Communication that is Here to Stay!
Digital platforms and tools have provided outstanding ways to communicate and stay connected. Given the growing number of conversations online, this form of communication in both personal and business sectors is here to stay. For businesses, this means getting in on the game, changing behaviors, and innovating to join the conversations. Your company’s creativity, relevant content, and communication is critical now, but it will be even more in the future. Those who do not maintain an ongoing market presence and make the needed communication upgrades will likely be left behind even when the current economic downturn has passed.
Keeping your company progressively focused and planning for the unexpected can bring big opportunities for pulling ahead of the competition as the economy opens and begins to improve. The Coronavirus has reshaped not only the PR industry, but all industries. Staying on top of current events, while being proactive in adjusting for these uncertain times and the future ahead can keep you and your business poised for success.
Every business should be developing PR strategies to successfully navigate the present circumstances and prepare for the future. If you need guidance today or in the days ahead, Digital PR powered by Exults is prepared to help you leverage your digital PR for success with the latest strategies.