5 Tips for Effective PR in a Pandemic

Navigating PR in a worldwide pandemic is something new to us all. We have never known a news agenda move so fast and are keen to ensure our clients respond, communicate, and address their audiences in a sensitive, impactful way.

So how do we do this at Threepipe Reply?

  1. RELEVANCE IS KEY

My first day working in PR, I quickly learnt that speed was key. Reacting to the news agenda, drafting commentary, and replying to journalist requests are ‘the bread and butter’ of the job, and to achieve results these need to be done quickly and effectively.

However, it is important to acknowledge the relevance of your brand when reacting to current news and affairs. Relevance is key. Avoid loose and tenuous links.

I am as guilty as anyone of ‘thinking outside the box’ and pitching creatively to boost a client’s coverage (BBQ themed toy for National BBQ Week anyone?) but it’s vital to recognise when and where creative pitching has a place.

In the current environment, if your brand cannot offer expertise, advice or relevant information and research to the conversation, hold fire. Tapping into a significant, sensitive, conversation with no backing could end up causing damage to your brand, instead of lifting it.

There are plenty of activities you can be doing in the meantime to elevate brand reach and awareness.

  1. PROMPT A SMILE

The media coverage of COVID-19 is all-consuming. Whether, you’re tuning into the daily Coronavirus briefing, picking up your daily paper, browsing on social media or watching the morning breakfast show on TV, you may be finding that you simply can’t avoid the COVID-19 coverage. And rightly so, we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.

When the news can sometimes become a little too much and you’re in need of switching off, positive, light-hearted and often silly content can be the remedy. In times like this, people are actively seeking out positive, uplifting news. Whether that’s a family singing a parody of Les Miserables, Captain Tom’s inspiring walk for charity, or in one of our client’s cases, the story of a springer spaniel pet detective who rescues missing cats, reuniting them with their beloved owners!

Many of the journalists we have been chatting to are actively looking for uplifting stories to offer some much-needed respite so if you have lovely news, imagery or case studies to share, put them at the top of your list!

  1. SOCIAL LEADS THE WAY

Lockdown has prompted an increase in screen time, including a 25% increase in engagement on Instagram and TikTok [The Drum]. Publishing engaging, creative and thoughtful content on your social media channels is essential to continue reaching your target audience.

As with press, the same rules apply; relevance is key and positive posts will go a long way! Think of your brand holistically and its significance at the present time. It may not be the time to push your offering commercially so think of other ways you can continue comms with your audience. For example, sharing user generated content, fun creatives and even company updates – consumers like to see a personal touch and the faces behind a brand. Now more than ever as we Zoom from our homes, those ‘so-called barriers’ have been removed.

Explore new formats, features and ways of engaging your audience. We have had a few requests from clients to spend this time split testing, auditing competitor channels and looking into brand tone of voice. If this has been on your rolling list of things to do – now is the time!

  1. SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Can your brand offer a helping hand during the crisis?

There are countless ways brands can offer support to society during the pandemic, for example; offering free memberships to educational resources for home schooling, donating gifts or meals to front line workers, creating exclusive discounts and volunteering your time and skills to support charitable causes.

Offering support to those in need will benefit the community as well as the reputation of your brand. People remember the companies which go above and beyond to support in difficult times.

  1. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN

Use this time to plan, research and prepare for upcoming campaigns, product launches, key industry dates and influencer activations. If now is not the time for your brand to boost proactive communication with its audience, you can begin preparing insightful, creative and thought-provoking activity for life after lockdown.

If you need some inspiration, gather your team for a cup of tea (or much-needed coffee!) and have a (virtual) brainstorm. Our team has had more brainstorms over the last few months than ever before, and if anything, they have been more effective than ever. Each one has helped to spark an idea, thought or insight – as well as facetime and chatter with missed colleagues!

Emily Coyle, Senior Account Manager at Threepipe Reply