Public Relations and the Pandemic: Digital and Remote

By Donna St. Jean Conti 

“With the current #COVID19 pandemic people are talking about how connected we all are. The world has always been connected. What is changing is the velocity and scale in how events will shape our society.” ― Tom Golway

There’s no getting around it, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way everyone does business, including B2B companies. For example, with trade shows and similar events cancelled, event organizers and markets pivoted to virtual events and webinars, but for how long? How does all of this impact public relations activities?

COVID-19’s Initial Impact and What You Can Do Now

The impact of the ongoing pandemic completely changed the way people do business, as workers found themselves having to isolate from their colleagues and working remotely. However, this dis not mean that everything came to an end as this article by Agility PR Solutions asserts.[1] While the article pushes for cancelling all non-essential press releases and product launches, marketers can still create messaging with a human-centered focus and take advantage of the uptick in social media use.[2] For instance, Agility PR provides the example of Ford and Hyundai having done an excellent job of sending a message, that they care about people who have lost their employment by offering payment relief for their new vehicles.[3] As for social media, now is the time to engage as sponsored content on platforms such as Instagram have increased by over 40 percent according to this article by Later.[4] Finding success in this digital pursuit is best explained in this article by MarTech Series when it states “those that take a targeted and data-driven approach will see better results and survive, even thrive…”[5]

The takeaway from this is that, although in-person engagement is halted, now is the best time to increase your business’s online presence. Of course, as this period of isolation is lifted, there is still the question of what comes next.

What Will Change?

Amidst the uncertainty also lies the question of what comes after isolation and the decline of COVID-19. A few predictions that this article by Marker makes include immediate and lasting gains for digital services and e-commerce, remote work becoming the default preference for employers and employees, and the rise of telemedicine.[6] This article by MarketingProfs also predicts a contraction and innovation of marketing technology (Martech) as “market leaders will pick up valuable technology at distressed prices and innovation will flourish and drive the next generation of marketing technology.”[7] Another interesting piece of insight by that same article is that those who invested in advertising while the costs were down will likely see significant dividends.[8] What can marketers personally do in the post COVID-19 era? The answer to this is to start preparing a strong marketing communications strategy.

How to Prosper After COVID-19

Following the decline of COVID-19 and the reopening of the economy, competition will be fierce. For this reason, PRWeek put out this article to help marketers develop an effective strategy with “four easy-to-implement, quick-to-conclusion steps to formulate a winning post-pandemic plan.”[9] The gist of this plan is to run a quick marketing mix modeling to identify channels for investment; survey your consumer base to see how their perceptions of your brand may have changed; change messaging accordingly; and invest in research, insights, and optimizations for the post-pandemic world.[10]

To sum things up, now is the time to increase online presence via social media and effective messaging campaigns, invest in advertisement campaigns while their costs are still low, and take time to research brand perceptions so that future changes can occur in a timely manner, because, among the many recent changes we’ve all experienced, perhaps the most significant to marketers is the velocity and scale of how events have shaped how we will move forward.

 

[1] Agility PR Solutions, “3 Essential Insights for Creative PR Campaigns During the COVID Crisis,” https://www.agilitypr.com/pr-news/public-relations/3-essential-insights-for-creative-pr-campaigns-during-the-covid-crisis/.
[2] Agility PR Solutions, “3 Essential Insights for Creative PR Campaigns During the COVID Crisis,” https://www.agilitypr.com/pr-news/public-relations/3-essential-insights-for-creative-pr-campaigns-during-the-covid-crisis/.
[3] Agility PR Solutions, “3 Essential Insights for Creative PR Campaigns During the COVID Crisis,” https://www.agilitypr.com/pr-news/public-relations/3-essential-insights-for-creative-pr-campaigns-during-the-covid-crisis/.
[4] Later, “The Impact of COVID-19 on Influencer Marketing,” https://later.com/blog/influencer-marketing-covid-19/.
[5] MarTech Series, “B2B Marketing in the Time of COVID-19: Experiences Will Evolve the Same Way News Media Did,” https://martechseries.com/mts-insights/guest-authors/b2b-marketing-time-covid-19-experiences-will-evolve-way-news-media/.
[6] Marker, “7 Predictions for a Post-Coronavirus World,” https://marker.medium.com/7-predictions-for-a-post-coronavirus-world-aaac052c8514.
[7] MarketingProfs, “B2B Marketing After COVID-19: What Changes and What Doesn’t?,” https://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2020/42856/b2b-marketing-after-covid-19-what-changes-and-what-doesnt.
[8] MarketingProfs, “B2B Marketing After COVID-19: What Changes and What Doesn’t?,” https://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2020/42856/b2b-marketing-after-covid-19-what-changes-and-what-doesnt.
[9] PRWeek, “Four Ways for Brands to Succeed After COVID-19,” https://www.prweek.com/article/1678615/four-ways-brands-succeed-covid-19.
[10] PRWeek, “Four Ways for Brands to Succeed After COVID-19,” https://www.prweek.com/article/1678615/four-ways-brands-succeed-covid-19.

 

 

Donna St. Jean Conti is president of St. Conti Communications, an award-winning, full-service, marketing communications agency specializing in public relations, social media, and writing support. For more information about our agency and how we can help you promote your products or services, contact Donna St. Jean Conti, APR, at dconti (at) stconticommunications.com.

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