There is no shortage of panic, hearsay and speculation about the current pandemic. What we know for sure is this is not the first time we have seen a crisis dominate the media, and it certainly won’t be the last.
The big question for businesses is how to keep moving forward during times like these, where the news cycle seems to preoccupy nearly anyone you speak to. In situations like the coronavirus, in particular, what is the best way to continue working toward the business goals we’ve set ourselves up for?
Since the spread of the virus ramped up, companies have slowly made their workforces remote to take additional precautions. How are these shifts impacting our workflow, and how are they affecting your marketing and PR plans in particular? By forcing less social interaction and more time online.
The great thing about living in a digital age is that everything is available online. Offline communications and events have become a novelty. That being said, this time of remote work gives businesses a unique opportunity to be seen and heard in new mediums, as long as they stay relevant to the temperature of the media and business environment.
Age-old PR tactics can come to play here with things like newsjacking, where we apply thought leadership and areas of expertise to the current news state. With this type of PR, there is also a great responsibility to make sure that you use these methods resourcefully and ethically. This is a good opportunity for me to share three key ways your organization can stay relevant in times of media saturation or during a crisis.
Prepare expert commentary relevant to your industry.
In any crisis, you should prepare commentary on your position. However, if what you do as a business can directly apply to some or all parts of the situation at hand, it is smart to create thoughtful insights on the situation that give advice on how to best handle it and apply effective tactics with business in mind. How does your business directly apply to the challenges that people are facing? What can your audience take advantage of and leverage to continue to drive business goals?
For example, In the case of the coronavirus and COVID-19, a side commentary that is currently topical is the work-from-home movement and how new remote workforces are popping up all over the world, collaborating or working from a distance for the first time. If you or your business can address some of the challenges, you can directly create some guidelines for those who aren’t already accustomed or businesses that are trying to create a protocol in this new remote-work environment.
Another example addresses the consumer segment of what we are calling “pandemic shopping.” An LA-based nutritionist is creating a list of foods to stock up on that will stay good for long-term storage for health-conscious families and individuals. This is a positive way to proactively use the news that will help her audience.
Leverage visual media.
Since social distancing has become a suggested mandate across the U.S. and globally, digital media is more important than ever. In a way, we have been primed to focus on digital content over the past five years. This is the time to use written, video and voice content to your advantage. I believe that human connection is and will always be important, so while podcasts and articles are great, finding dynamic ways to leverage visual content on platforms like YouTube or Facebook Live and other video mediums will be a great way to stay visually connected with your audience. Creative and interesting content will be more important than ever, so if you create this content, make sure it is clever and has a direct call to action so the time spent will result in positive ROI for your business.
Network in a more personal way.
For the past year, I have seen the networking aspect of LinkedIn grow with the use of Sales Navigator; however, what is often lacking is the personal connection. The messages are mostly generic at best. Adding a personalized connection to any kind of outreach is critical to developing and nurturing relationships.
This is even more true when working with the media, especially in a very noisy news environment. I always recommend that people who are doing their own PR research the media thoroughly to create a more personal and human connection. This also applies to business networking as it continues to move online. Quality over quantity is the name of the game.
These few things may seem simple enough, but you’d be hard-pressed to see brands revisit their strategies when a global event occurs. It may be the last thing on your mind, though it should be one of the first. Read the room. A quick and nimble reaction and adjusting your communication and business strategies are key to having successful results and keeping business moving in uncertain times. That’s what business is all about.