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Turning pandemic lemons into PR lemonade

We detail why you should never let a pandemic go to waste, and provide a definitive PR blueprint to leverage a highly engaged audience through earned media.

Love it or hate it, mainstream media plays a central role in our everyday when ‘normal life’ is in a constant state of limbo. Suddenly, the premier’s press conference or the chief health officer’s media release has an immediate and direct impact on our lives.

 

And while the COVID-19 crisis may have wreaked havoc on our best-laid PR plans, Kiz says it has also presented an opportunity to leverage a highly engaged audience through earned media.

But it’s not about forcing yourself into the conversation; it’s about being ready and prepared to add your voice where it’s relevant and aligned with your values.

The COVID-19 PR cloud

It’s hard to find space within the COVID-19 cloud. Brands, organisations and public figures may find the PR strategies that were getting cut-through pre-pandemic aren’t as effective now, or that there’s no appetite for them.

 

So, like all good businesses, we must pivot. There are plenty of possibilities and new communication approaches to consider.

 

Earned media presents one of the biggest opportunities at a time when consumers are so connected to news.

 

It’s probably the first time that most people have known the names of all the breakfast-TV and talkback-radio hosts, nevermind the names of all the state premiers – and even how to pronounce Berejiklian and Palaszczuk.

Marketers can be creative with content and investigate new methods to forge connections with customers and stakeholders. It’s about finding ways to adapt and considering new routes to winning “hearts and minds”.

How do you reignite your earned-media approach?

Turn-COVID-19-lemons-into-PR-lemonade
Stretch your earned media strategy and turn COVID-19 lemons into lemonade.

Authentic messages in the right channels

Firstly, don’t deviate from your core brand positioning and purpose. And especially don’t try to insert you/your organisation/your product into a COVID-19 conversation if it’s not relevant or going to help people. This type of publicity will be called out immediately.

 

Only engage if you have something really important to say.

 

And if you do, then you must have your spokespeople ready and prepped. The broadcast media are extremely eager for new opinions and voices. But you need to have your key messages firmly in place and have a clear reason for being in the conversation.

Reputation management

The flip side of this is the increased hunger for news and a demand for more information. People are trying to arm themselves with the latest updates and voice their opinions.

 

This has led to the proliferation of misinformation, “professional” social-media commentators, keyboard Karens and opportunists all looking to voice their opinions.

 

Brands will find that consumers are more willing than ever to make comments on every communication that goes out into the world.

Make sure you have a solid social-media escalation plan, as well as an issues-and-crisis management plan that can be activated at any moment.

Entertainment-focused content

While people are hyper-connected to the media, there’s also pandemic fatigue. We want relief from the “COVID show”. We need to be uplifted and entertained. Find new ways to entertain and engage people with content that’s meaningful and that cuts through the clutter.

 

An influencer strategy can assist with that. It’s now widely accepted that influencers are one of the most trusted sources for connected consumers. If you don’t already have an influencer strategy, get one now!

 

If you do, dial it up and get creative – especially with the content creators who have a connected and engaged audience, and who will collaborate with you on creating meaningful content.

 

There are some extremely innovative people who are experts in the use of content that will build their channel. Use them as a new source of inspiration.

Targeted approach

It’s not always about mass reach. Sometimes it’s about a specific story, with a specific journalist who writes for the right audience. Focusing on quality over quantity is important for brands now.
Journalists are also looking for different ways to engage their audiences. They will speak to brands and organisations that have something to say, if it will resonate with their audience. Find the right fit and the right place for your storytelling.

Here’s the pièce de PR résistance – among a plethora of coverage – when we did exactly that for the Australian Business Growth Fund, one of our favourite clients.

Highlight-key-messages-with-financial-review
Walking the PR walk: we helped ABGF highlight its purpose and key messages with high-value media.

Connecting people

More than anything, people are craving connection and empathy. They’re missing out on a huge part of their lives.

 

Try to find a way to combine commercial objectives with human emotions.

 

What value do you have at the moment that will contribute to people’s lives now? How can you help your valued customer base or connect with new ones?

 

No-one is in the mood for untargeted and irrelevant marketing or messages. Being very clear on the best channels and the way to communicate is so important.

Be brave

Instead of feeling as if you’re stuck in the COVID-19 cloud, use this time to stretch your PR strategy. Explore new areas and new channels.

 

Be more creative with ideas and platforms.

 

Find influencers who will collaborate with you and help you create better storytelling.

 

And find new ways to connect.

ubiquity-lab-ebook-build-a-sophisticated-content-marketing-strategy-20-step-guide

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