The communications industry – whether in-house or agency – is transforming (may I add, unexpectedly) following the emergence of COVID-19. Budgets are being slashed, focuses are shifting and it seems like everyone is in a perpetual state of “go, go, go.” Even with this newfound reality, hopping from trend to trend is something that we generally accept in communications. We are always thinking, “this is the next big thing, how can I tie my company or my client to it in a way that breaks through the noise and tells a story?”
However, in times of crisis as we face together now, it’s important to look to the future as you act in the present. Not everyone should be commenting on coronavirus’ each and every twist, turn and impact. As my colleague Lauren Buckley said recently in her blog, good strategy means knowing when to lean into the conversation just as much as knowing when to be quiet. Strategizing for a new and different future – playing the long game, running the marathon – has never been more important. Here are three ways to do that.
Explore new avenues
Now, an especially heartbreaking time when media organizations are facing slashed advertising budgets, more pitches than ever, and loss of jobs, is the time to look at diversifying your efforts beyond just media relations. While extremely impactful, media relations isn’t the only thing that we as communicators should be (and are) experts on. Consider new avenues like sponsored content, LinkedIn Live or influencer engagement. Think about how as an industry, PR can support media partners who are going through a tough time with partnerships and activations.
Avoid the bandwagon
Use this time as an opportunity to explore what is new and different about the company you’re representing. There are a few topics (a few years ago it was AI, then blockchain and now COVID-19) that consistently make headlines, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those topics are right for you. We’re in the business of communications. That means communicating your unique, impactful story, regardless of if it hits on a buzzword or not. Meet new people within your organizations, dig deeper and find the story you should tell.
As Ross said in Friends, Pivot. Where is the need for your company and your client? For many, it’s internal and customer communications. Now more than ever, people are feeling uncertain about their jobs and their futures. Take a look at your priorities and reshuffle them to ensure that your focus is serving the current needs of the business – this is what makes our function indispensable. As communicators, marketers and especially PR professionals, brand reputation and relationships are everything. That doesn’t always mean media.
As communicators, we will always have stories to tell. The key during COVID-19 is knowing where to focus your efforts to best support your brand.
For more on how to navigate the present as you focus on the future, head to our HotComms Toolkit.