3 Public Relations Lessons Learned from the Global Pandemic
The global pandemic has brought a seismic shift to nearly all aspects of our lives, and it doesn’t stop short of public relations. In the last several months, coronavirus and the ever-changing news cycle has impacted the way we help our clients in their public relations initiatives. From a dramatic increase in virtual media interviews to evolving communication strategies, some critical public relations lessons have come from the COVID-19 outbreak. The following are the top three most crucial changes for our clients to understand as we navigate the post-pandemic PR landscape:
Know How to Do Digital Interviews
One of the biggest trends to emerge from the pandemic is the increased use of digital platforms and how they provide a great opportunity to still conduct interviews. When it comes to broadcast media, the recent pandemic has encouraged the use of technology platforms like Skype, Zoom and others. The good news is this means you can do media interviews at any time, from any location. The bad news is if your technologically challenged, it’s time to play catch-up and get with the times. It appears that even post-pandemic this trend won’t be going anywhere as this has opened reporters and producers’ eyes to the convenience and accessibility virtual interviews provide. Gone are the days of scheduling conflicts or rushing to a source’s office to get an interview to make a deadline. Instead, a simple Skype, Zoom or virtual call will allow a reporter or producer on a tight deadline to get the source they need to share the information their audience is seeking.
In recent months, we’ve coordinated numerous virtual interviews for our clients. From local to national media outlets, everyone has been turning to these platforms, and we have found that the advisors who are already up-to-speed on how these platforms work are the ones securing media interview after media interview.
For those of you who are less inclined to use this technology, you’re in luck! I’ve already written a blog that walks you through how to prepare for a virtual interview! You can check it out here: How to Prepare for Skype and FaceTime Interviews.
Have an Adaptable Communications Strategy
Whether it’s a global pandemic or nationwide protests, the news cycle can and should impact your communications strategy. Typically, the news cycle can affect your public relations efforts in two ways: it creates an opportunity to get a message out, or it creates a reason for you putting your current communication strategies on hold. Either way, you must be adaptable and have a process that allows you to shift gears quickly. A few things to keep in mind when an event occurs that disrupts the news cycle:
- Social media posts should be paused, and a new strategy that takes into account the current news cycle should put in place. We’ve all seen the social media backlash people can face for either ignoring or sending out a poorly time tweet or post. A triggering news event may warrant that you put out your own statement on your profiles – or it may not. It will be up to you and your marketing team (or firm!) to determine this.
- Media outreach may also need to be paused temporarily. If the news cycle has impacted the markets or other aspects of the financial world, this certainly warrants the opportunity to reach out and offer your insight. However, if the current event does not directly correlate to financial matters, you may want to give your media contacts a few days or potentially even a full week or two to focus on their current assignments. Contacting media with a financial-related pitch during a time when they are swamped, covering another story, can seem insensitive and out-of-touch with their needs as reporters or producers.
- Upcoming public relations campaigns may need to be delayed or put on hold, whether for a book, office opening, charitable or other public event or announcement, the news event may be reason enough to delay your upcoming campaign. In doing this, you not only respect and recognize the importance of the issue at hand, but it also allows you to make the most of your campaign once the news cycle eventually calms down.
- Consider these additional tips for Crisis Communication When Disaster Strikes when and how to reach your staff, clients, and community.
Identify Opportunities Where You Can Be of Service
A news-triggering event can provide an opportunity for you to offer relevant, timely insight to media. As mentioned, if the current news cycle has had a direct impact on the financial world, you should be prepared to reach out to media to offer yourself as a knowledge resource; provide reliable insight into what’s going on and what local residents or fellow Americans should do. As we all know, the global pandemic had a huge impact on the markets and the economy, creating numerous opportunities for financial professionals to share their insight and advice. Then, the passage of the CARES Act created a second wave of opportunities to discuss how the relief package would impact American’s finances. These major news events are times when you should reach out to media to provide insight and share sound financial expertise when Americans need it most.
- During times of crisis, charitable initiatives can also be a way to shift your current communications strategy and give back to causes who need help. Even if you’ve decided to pause your current public relations campaign, that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to halt all PR efforts. If you’ve chosen to support a non-profit or make a monetary donation to a charity, you can spread the word and encourage others to support the same cause.
- Be cognoscente of what you’re doing to adapt during times of crisis or change. The pandemic was a time that forced most business owners to shift gears, and for financial professionals, many of them adjusted their business model to operate as a digital storefront. At the time, you may not have realized this would be a newsworthy story, but the fact you were able to adapt your business, keep your employees’ jobs secure and continue to provide an essential service to local residents certainly warrants a news story. We helped many of our clients spread this news in their local communities, and our president Alana Kohl recently wrote her blog on how to stay relevant while working from home.
Have questions on how we can help you navigate the post-pandemic PR landscape? Contact us today to discuss how we can be of help.
Jill Jagelski Schofield is the Director of Public Relations for AdvisorPR and a former executive producer and anchor for an NBC affiliate. Established in 2005, AdvisorPR is a branding, marketing and public relations firm dedicated to providing custom and turnkey marketing communications solutions exclusively to financial professionals and the corporate companies that serve them.