State of public relations during the coronavirus pandemic

Posted
September 11th 2020

A survey of 400 public relations professionals conducted by BuzzStream recently revealed that 57% of their clients have significantly changed their PR strategy in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, since PR is focused on bringing new business in and can be quite costly, and many clients are focused on maintaining their customers, an organization’s PR strategy can be the first to go. 

We compiled a list of some of the most effective public relations strategies that have been identified during the coronavirus pandemic, to ensure your PR efforts remain viable and successful.

Positive Sentiment

According to BuzzStream, public relations professionals should pitch content with a positive sentiment due to the stressful nature of the global pandemic. Topics such as health and wellness, lifestyle, and food have positive connotations, and are less likely to be numbing than a bleak forecast of the future. Instead of focusing on what is lost – social events such as parties and team sports – focus on what can be gained in the post-coronavirus world. Heineken’s “Connections” commercial is an excellent example of this. Instead of addressing the drawbacks of the current crisis, Heineken finds the charm in a group of friends social distancing together on Zoom. 

Show you’re there for your clients

As AgilityPR puts it, “be valuable, not profitable.” When networking with other PR professionals and working on your campaign through the media, be conscious of your messaging. Now is the time to be humane. If people learn to respect your brand or business due to your humanitarian value and lack of profit chasing, you will establish a level of professionalism and trust that is invaluable. 

Don’t ignore the elephant in the room

At this point, essentially everyone involved in the public relations industry has an understanding of the coronavirus pandemic. However, don’t be too quick to pitch articles on topics unrelated to COVID-19. Buzzstream asserts that since March, 62% of paid and earned media pitches referenced COVID-19. More importantly, they found that pitches related to COVID-19 were “2.3 times more effective than pitches unrelated to the pandemic.” It is also important to try to be unique with these pitches. In an earlier conversation with David Richard of BIGFishPR, we learned that clever subject lines related to COVID-19 had the potential to stand out amongst pitches. By adding a creative spin to a well-understood issue, you can keep your PR strategy relevant.

Monitor your success

In a previous post, we outlined the best strategies for measuring the success of your PR campaign, including measuring press hits, using engagement metrics such as Google Analytics, and gauging your share of voice. It is crucial to continue using these tools to ensure that your COVID-19 PR strategy remains on track. 

A pay-by-use plan that works for you

With all the uncertainty in the world surrounding COVID-19, many PR professionals are weary to engage in 12 month long contracts with media analytics and databases. As BuzzStream’s survey shows, 49% of PR clients have reduced their PR budget in light of the economic downturn. If you want more news alerts in real time, daily briefs of your campaign’s impact and a robust journalism database without being locked in to a year long contract, PeakMetrics flexible pricing model is just for you.