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PR Trends during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Public Relations is one of the most effective ways to build on marketing strategies and create a strong brand image. Public Relations (PR) strategies that applied for different brands at the starting of the year 2020 may not be applicable in the present-day situation

Published: Dec 3, 2020 10:55:02 AM IST
Updated: Dec 3, 2020 10:57:46 AM IST

PR Trends during the COVID-19 PandemicImage: Shutterstock

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the whole of humanity and changed every aspect of human behaviour as well as the way businesses were functioning. The pandemic resulted in a crisis time for those organisations which had never faced anything like this before.

Effective communications and readiness of adapting to a new environment is the key to endure during this unique crisis time. Brands have now become very conscious and especially during this pandemic they want to show their empathy towards their existing as well as prospective customers with the help of public relations.

The pandemic has completely changed the role and responsibilities of public relations. There are many twists and turns in the traditional PR tools.  Mass plunging and press releases have become very targeted, refined and innovative often with a personal touch.

While it’s very difficult to forecast what fluctuations will be seen in the coming times, here are the following strategies that are helping organisations recalibrate their PR plans to gain the trust of their stakeholders.

Using influencers: Influencers are the new buzz in marketing and the role of influencers is becoming bigger day by day. Due to the increasing popularity of social media every social media user is an influence on others. Followers and friends always pay attention and participate in the endorsements done by their friends, family and opinion leaders. The feeling of having a personal relationship with opinion leaders always goes in favour of brands/organisations. In the time of covid-19, people are searching for real experiences from trustworthy and accessible sources for solving their problems. Conveying messages through influencers is a smart and convenient way of reaching the public in this pandemic.

Leadership with concern and opinion: The opinion and advice of a leader always matter. People want to hear from their leaders especially during tough times. Designing a PR strategy using the experience and knowledge of the key people of the organisation and placing their expertise for the welfare of society and helping clients. Different Media platforms, NGO’s and other social bodies are always looking for thought leaders from different spectrum to give insights, expertise and advice on relevant matters on a timely basis. Blogs, Interviews, Podcasts, Panel Discussions, Social Media Posts, research articles etc. can be very effective tools of public relations. Sometimes personalised emails, SMS or phone calls to clients and customers can create magic and build a special bond between organisation and its public.

Become a part of online communities: Online communities to exchange views and experiences about brands are flourishing and becoming an online source of word of mouth. Brands are using these communities to take the feedback and understand customer’s needs and expectations. Content and reviews generated by these communities’ work as testimonials for the product and services. Brands use comments and experiences of customers for publicity and to develop brand equity.

Agile Public Relations: A flexible PR (PR team) which actions quickly and easily is an actual need of the hour. At the time of any crisis, the key to planning an effective PR strategy is based on solving customer’s problems on a timely basis. Model of Agile publica relations works through analytical data and it reaches the right people at right time. The organisations that have adopted an agile PR operating model to deliver value to their publics have been experiencing higher credibility and customer-based brand equity.

News-jacking: A term established by David Meerman Scott in 2011, “newsjacking” is the act of leveraging breaking news to draw eyes to your organization and cause. It’s an exercise of aligning a branding activity with current happenings. It can be designing your CSR activities, presence on social media platforms or planning an event that is in sync with the present happenings. The objective is to generate media attention and brand publicity.

In conclusion, getting a space and timeframe between breaking news is an art that requires apt messaging, agility, coherence of what’s happening around you and great media relations.

-     Authored article contributed by Prof. Dr. Namrata Singh, Assistant Professor, PGDM-Media & Entertainment, S. P. Mandali's Prin. L. N. Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research (WeSchool)  on PR Trends During Covid -19 Pandemic

[This article has been reproduced with permission from Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research (WeSchool)]

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