We’re all in the thick of the coronavirus crisis. No one’s exempt. The situation’s a massive challenge for businesses, their employees and our communities. So it’s an important time to communicate properly while you weather the storm and plan for the future.
So how can PR and communications help your business during this? Well, we’d suggest it’s vitally important to think carefully about each different audience you need to be speaking to, so they know how your business is coping, adapting and planning for the future. These may be obvious immediate audiences necessary to communicate with for short-term survival. Or they may be new audiences, as yet untapped, who can be the key to future success.
The organisations which survive – and even thrive – will be those which adapt to circumstances, take quick, decisive and sound decisions, communicate them properly and take their staff, suppliers and customers with them on this journey.
Ideally, you should be looking to:
So whether it’s through press releases, social media activity, newsletters, staff communications or lobbying – PR and communications experts can help devise and execute the most effective ways to get your message across.
The coming weeks and months are effectively a period of ongoing and continuous crisis, so getting your messaging right as the situation evolves could be critical to your future.
Simply, PR is reputation management. It’s looking after how your company is perceived. Of course there are a range of audiences this can be applied to – your shareholders, your staff, customers and clients, graduates, the community and the general public, investors – and there are different tactics and strategies for each.
One of the best ways to get your message out is through the media and that’s what PR experts usually specialise in. The best are often ex-journalists, working with colleagues in the press to tell business stories and promote a client editorially, without paying for advertising.
Editorial coverage packs the most punch – people read, discuss and share it on social media and sometimes even send it viral. But it takes skill to get right, often some lateral thinking, and confident honesty with a client over what will (and won’t) pique a journalist’s interest.
PR also covers crisis communications – helping to protect a brand during times of crisis and also dealing with any negative media attention as and when it occurs.
We’re not talking about your IT set-up here – ‘comms’ are the other ways, apart from through the media, of how you communicate with your key audiences.
There’s a massive variety here and the key is to select the right tactic for the right audience. It could range from local newspaper advertising, leaflets and inserts, SEO or online spend, video footage, through to press releases distributed by newswire, or quality printed collateral delivered by post. Getting the medium is as important as the message.
So for example, a blue chip firm wouldn’t release its company annual report to investors through a series of posts on Twitter. Nor would a local pizza chain promote a Wednesday night two-for-one offer in a press release to its key business sector publication. It’s a matter of identifying the appropriate audience for what you want to achieve, then strategising your comms and executing as appropriate.
Your employees are of course key internal stakeholders. It’s essential to keep them motivated and productive, looked after and well-informed so that they stay with you, work hard and help to advocate your brand. How are you communicating with them? And are you making the most of the potential that your relationship with them can have?
By now you’ll have dealt with initial shock of being forced to close business, or dramatically adapted your offering or modus operandi. Have you communicated this effectively and are you making the most of the efforts you’ve made?
God the media love whipping up a scandal, don’t they? Especially when there’s a point to be made. Dominic Cummings: admired and despised by the media in equal measure for first engineering a referendum victory then masterminding a General Election borderline thumping, while adopting an almost Trump-ian disdain for the press which, until recently, hasn’t done him or the Prime Minister any harm at all.