In the midst of the pandemic, many companies have already come up with new PR strategies to help them stay afloat or strategies to help them get a good investment return. Even so, the beginning of lockdown caused many people to panic and question their next steps. COVID-19 has changed how companies do business, and they have had to buckle down and come up with new strategies to deal with something no one has ever experienced before.
In the beginning there was a lot of confusion as brands struggled to communicate during the crisis, and public relations professionals quickly adapted to the new situation. Despite this massive shift, successful companies have now developed exciting and relatable content with the needs of their clients in mind.
Since the start of lockdown, buying habits have changed, and brands have had to adapt their approach and their messaging accordingly. The good news is that public relations and marketing still continue to play a critical role during the pandemic. Brands all over the world still need to invest in creating an effective communications strategy, either by themselves or with the help of PR professionals.
PR professionals, like the team at Pressfarm, are experts in understanding trends and know how to help companies obtain media coverage in the midst of change. Pressfarm’s PR experts and writers work with companies to build effective PR strategies to help these brands survive in the midst of change. The team at Pressfarm is also skilled at creating relevant, newsworthy content which can be sent to journalists or media outlets or used as optimized content in search engine results.
In this article, we will look at:
- PR strategies during a pandemic
- Examples of successful PR and marketing campaigns
PR strategies for a pandemic
1) Be relevant
With not much else happening worldwide, news about the pandemic has dominated the news cycle. For a while, it was difficult for any other news to attract attention unless it was somewhat related to the pandemic. As we proceeded further into the “new normal,” other news started emerging, including stories related to the Black Lives Matter movement and the election.
There are so many conversations happening at the moment, from the pandemic to politics, economic unrest, racial inequality, unemployment, and beyond. Effective PR strategies should connect company news with timely social issues to achieve media coverage in an already saturated news cycle.
2) Be considerate and show solidarity
The pandemic has affected millions of people globally, so it is vital that a company’s message is empathetic and their approach to public relations and marketing considerate. Of course, it’s always a good idea to offer the reader some entertaining content to take their mind off whatever is happening, but humour should be used wisely and minimally. Ultimately, during a pandemic, brands should focus more on solving problems, bringing people together, and helping others out.
There is a time and place for everything. For example, it is probably in bad taste to announce executives’ promotions at top jobs at a time when many people around the world have lost their jobs. As consumers are aligning with brands that reflect their values, companies should exhibit corporate social responsibility in sustainability, gender equality, and other social issues to attract new traffic to their brand.
Providing help through donating, volunteering, or collaborating with other businesses helps companies increase their community support, goodwill, and brand awareness.
3) Be informative
With the abundance of “fake news” and misinformation currently dominating news outlets and social media platforms, branded PR content needs to be informative, offering both insight and value to a company’s target audience. This approach will help brands to achieve online visibility and establish themselves as thought leaders in their industries.
Rather than taking advantage of a global crisis to get media coverage, companies should position themselves as thought leaders on something they are experts in. If a company is just looking for media attention and expert insights to make them look good, then their audience will see through this. For this reason, companies should go out of their way to find out what their target audience’s pain points are and produce quality content addressing these issues.
In order to be recognized as a thought leader, a company needs to think about what unique solutions they have for their industry, how they can help ease people’s fears, and help their community.
Anxiety is part of everyone’s lives these days. Many of the brands that have survived the pandemic so far have succeeded because they’ve successful brands have offered a solution to this widespread anxiety. They have adapted their original PR strategy to solve a problem, create valuable content, or both.
4) Be creative
To get noticed and stand out from the competition, companies need to develop creative and original content that showcases their key messages and boosts their brand identity in an appealing way. This is where traditional and digital PR strategies meet to provide informative, creative content to larger audiences.
5) Include a human interest angle
A very high percentage of online consumers trust real people’s opinions more than they trust miscellaneous quotes that have been written on websites and publications for advertising. At a time when buying habits have changed, consumers are looking to individuals they trust to get them through challenging times.
Companies need to emphasize their product or service’s relevance and talk about why the brand is still beneficial to their consumer. Equally, they should create content that emphasizes transparency and promotes human interest stories. Ideally, this content should be relatable and give people incentive to spend time getting to know the brand better.
6) Optimize SEO
Consumers spend a lot of time online these days, so it’s important for brands to maintain an active online presence. By focusing on digital marketing tactics like paid ads, SEO, and email marketing, companies can keep their websites up-to-date and establish themselves as thought leaders through blogs, videos, social media, and other digital content.
An SEO strategy is essential for companies during a pandemic. Using the right keywords can help them earn media coverage. This is where SEO and PR overlap, as earned media has become the most appropriate way to obtain backlinks.
7) Audit sales funnel
Even before the pandemic, it was important for a company to analyze and audit their marketing strategy to adapt to the continuously changing market. With the pandemic, the business environment has been evolving even more rapidly than before. As the market changes, companies must conduct a competitive analysis to evaluate which strategies are working and which ones aren’t.
Examples of successful PR & marketing campaigns
Apple, Creativity Goes On
During the lockdown, many people found themselves with much time on their hands and tried to find new forms of entertainment. Whether by watching videos or trying to learn a new skill, people were constantly trying to occupy their time.
Throughout lockdown, Apple worked hard to develop their ‘Creativity Goes On’ campaign to show how people were using Apple products to stay creative during the pandemic. Their team quickly developed a video advert showcasing people drawing pictures on their iPads, creating video content, and using FaceTime to stay connected with loved ones and share ideas. They also used effective influencer marketing to include celebrities showcasing their efforts.
It was clear that they knew how much consumers rely on influencers and people they have a connection with to guide their purchasing decisions. They also learned how to use visuals and music to connect with audiences by providing original people’s original clips using their products. Their efforts demonstrated how Apple users were using their creativity to learn, play, create and teach through challenging times.
Nike, Play for the World
Nike succeeded in humanizing their brand with their campaign. Nike used hashtags like #stayhome, #wearamask, and #staysafe as part of the marketing plan that helped them to launch their Play for the World campaign successfully.
Their mission was to present the idea that staying home and staying safe would help the world stay united, get through tough times, and influence millions. They also brought in brand ambassadors LeBron James and Michael Jordan to reiterate this message to their audience. Through this campaign and their digital platforms, they kept clients active and engaged with the brand from the safety of their own homes.
Along with the campaign, Nike donated $15 million towards COVID-19 relief efforts and followed the regulations set up by governments for store closures. They even went to extra mile to help staff who could not work by giving them paid time off. This campaign showed that Nike wanted their consumers to follow by example and prioritize their safety as well as the safety of their loved ones.
The COVID-19 pandemic has offered Nike a unique opportunity to showcase their customer-centric mindset at a time when humanity needed it the most. Nike made good use of this opportunity through actions that put people above profit and encourage positive change and behaviour for their consumers.
Heinz Tomato Ketchup
When COVID-19 first hit, many people started searching for new things to cure their boredom. A good number of these people turned to puzzles to pass the time.
Heinz launched a 570-piece jigsaw puzzle on their social media channels, giving followers the chance to win one of the 57 puzzles they had created. The campaign proved so popular that they decided to sell the puzzles in the US and Canada. Heinz also pledged to donate the equivalent of 107,000 meals to a food bank network from the proceeds.
The campaign worked well because it not only generated humour with the puzzle’s authentic styling but also did something positive for the community during the pandemic. It was clear that Heinz had done their research. With their puzzles they were able to solve an audience their target audience was facing: boredom. In addition, the brand also displayed creativity while still staying on brand.
What companies and PR pros can learn from the pandemic
When attempting to develop PR strategies in 2021, it is essential to acknowledge the current state of affairs. Rather than offering people generic information, companies and PR pros should strive to create educational and entertaining content that adds value and enhances their customer experience.
At a time when consumers’ priorities have changed drastically, brands need to make sure that their content is not overly promotional. Instead, they should include a human interest angle and ensure that all their communication has a purpose and value. In addition, companies can adapt in the following ways:
1) Highlight the value of their press releases and product launches
At a time when consumer needs are changing, companies need to think about how they can use new products and services to solve a common problem. Once they have figured this out, it is important to highlight the problem they are solving and the value they are offering consumers in their press releases.
2) Keep the message simple and human-centered
Before the pandemic, it was already important for brands to keep their messaging simple. This is even more critical during the pandemic. Companies should craft their message in a way that highlights the important information and focuses on how they’re making life easier for their consumers.
People are more likely than ever before to choose brands that share their values and help those in need. If companies can communicate consumer-centric messages, then they can generate positive publicity.
3) Take advantage of social media
Social media has provided solace for people trying to occupy their time during the pandemic. For this reason, the pandemic has increased the level of engagement between brands and their target audiences. There is no better chance to take advantage of social media to engage directly with consumers.
Companies and PR pros have had to shift into overdrive to create and maintain a positive brand image during the pandemic. To be effective during a crisis, a brand’s PR strategies should provide insight, have a human interest angle, and be creative enough to draw attention.