Significance of PR and authentic communications during COVID-19 times

Novel Coronavirus disease is changing the face of many businesses and corporate communications, marketing or public relations (PR) wing of any organisation needs to be sensitive to the crisis brought about by the pandemic while also keeping their organisation’s brand value intact.

Even in the midst of this crisis, the target audience must be at the front of each strategy. Their inclinations would understandably change during this time. So the PR people must introspect about the COVID-19 effect on the audience and how to communicate with the audience about the change in scenario.

The corporate communicators or PR personnel are responsible for maintaining the brand value of their organisation, even during this time. The media houses too need news stories outside of the pandemic and therefore, a PR manager must look for pitches that can still attract the journalists to cover their organisation. Just because their organisation’s projects are stalled, that does not mean PR needs to stop too during these difficult times.

Currently, more people are at home than ever, some have more time than usual to read and watch more content looking for information or products that can help during those difficult times.

This is the opportune time to create good and relevant content and build trust with the end users while putting oneself in the position of the audience and thinking about what could be relevant for them. Maintaining authenticity should be paramount while disseminating information. There is a need for producing educational content, tips, best practices, basic or advanced learning material etc which the audience can use for their benefit while staying connected with the organisation.

Social distancing is regulated now in almost every country to stop the spread of the virus. This is why people are currently increasingly using social media platforms and messenger services to communicate with each other and to get the latest information possible.

As part of a company or an organisation, corporate communicators should definitely be more active on social media, informing about changes, updates about COVID-19 and answering queries. In addition, creative approaches can now also help to deal with the situation in order to get people’s attention.

While the audience is there now, corporate communicators must also be sensitive about not to bombard the social media feeds with their company’s agenda during these times. So how one can you promote content while still showing respect for the current situation? Some brands continue to post their regular content, while at the same time sharing important information about virus updates. This shows their audience that they are plugged-in to what is going on while still delivering top quality content.

The point is, one does not have to stay away from engaging with the audience regularly because of the situation. But the trick is to be smart about it while splattering one’s reach out strategies with empathy and understanding.

Although COVID-19 is the top story now, there are still journalists who continue to write industry-related articles and now, more than ever, need materials to help them get their job done. And if one can connect one’s story to a low-key, virus-related subject, such as working from home, time management, and homeschooling etc, it would get attention from the media and get published for a wider audience.

At the end of the day, this is uncharted territory for all. As in any other fields, creativity can set one apart in the sphere of corporate communications and PR too. Use of the internet for seminars, live streams, posting of useful videos on social media etc can help the communicators to keep their brands and organisations in the loop and relevant during these difficult times.

Swakkhyar Deka
About Swakkhyar Deka

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Swakkhyar Deka is serving as a Liaison Officer with the Information & Public Relations Department, Govt of Assam. He contributes write-ups regularly to leading dailies of the state. His interest ranges from women's rights, economy, culture to various socio-political issues. Among others, he is also a short filmmaker, traveller and an avid reader.