Embracing a new reality: adapting PR & Comms in the wake of COVID-19

Posted on 24 Mar 2020 by Firework PR

All businesses, large and small, are facing unprecedented challenges, with the national and international news agenda monopolised by coverage of Covid-19. While many firms have contingency plans, the fact is this evolving coronavirus pandemic, and the knock-on effect it is having globally, is simply not something any of us could have truly prepared for.

Along with many other businesses across the nation, and indeed the world, our clients are taking stock of their communications, and considering carefully what their messages should be amid such a fast-paced global crisis.

In the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, our advice to clients was, first and foremost, to adhere to government guidance and keep up to date with Downing Street’s daily briefings, aligning and adapting business operations where necessary and ensuring colleagues and customers were kept in the loop. Now, we are helping clients devise and/or revise their business strategies in light of newly imposed restrictions in this evolving situation.

We have also offered the following recommendations to help ensure businesses create transparency in their communications and remain a responsible member of the community during this extremely challenging period.

Immediate priorities

  • Remember, how you respond in times of crisis will set the tone for future organisational perception in the eyes of the consumer.
  • Carry out an audit of your current purpose and ask yourself, does it align with the national priorities? Right now, businesses should be focusing their messaging on supporting communities and people rather than seeking commercial gain and increased profit margins.
  • While Covid-19 will continue to be the core focus of the media’s attention, be on the look out for those journalists seeking alternative stories. There will be an appetite for more positive news so be ready.
  • Use this time to distil your communications framework and enhance your core positioning. We hear all too often that businesses do not have the time or headspace to pay enough attention to this – maximise this opportunity and set the foundations for your communications once Covid-19 has passed.
  • Ensure all your communications are in sync, from your website to your overall positioning.
  • Be clear and concise to both customers and colleagues – know your true business’ position on Covid-19 and understand that it will need to be reviewed on a daily basis in response to the Prime Minister’s nightly briefings.

Longer-term goals

  • The key objective for your communications at the minute should be viewed in the long-term. When we all emerge from this pandemic, businesses will need to have a robust strategy to deliver a strong and clear message, as well as an abundance of content that will help spread that message.
  • We all know that content is king, yet many firms struggle to find the time needed to do this justice. Case studies can take a long time to bring to fruition while blogs are often pushed to one side in favour of sales-led activity and promotions. Take the opportunity to build your content bank – blogs, case studies, white papers, videos etc. – so that when the world resembles normality again, you have a valuable collection of content ready to disseminate.

We are all looking to the UK government, as well as the NHS and World Health Organisation, for regular updates and advice on what we should be doing.

It goes without saying, we urge everyone to read the NHS guidelines and minimise the risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/as well as the current government response https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response.

We anticipate things to change quickly and understand how stressful this can be for many businesses. If you have any questions or would like some help understanding the role your communications should play during this time, please do get in touch. Drop us an email – hello@fireworkpr.co.uk or call Clare Wall on 07974 161127 for a free, no obligation chat. Let’s face this challenge together and emerge stronger than ever. For the latest updates and hints and tips on how to get through follow us on twitter @fireworkpr

For more information about communicating during a crisis, please visit our Crisis Management page.

Brian mcgowan yki Doi46 Xjc unsplash

Related Articles

If you like the Firework way start a conversation today