One subject dominated the news cycles throughout the crisis – and, in the post-normal era, it’s easy to predict that COVID-19 will continue to reshape and redefine the media agenda. But this, itself, opens up new possibilities for PR and content in this brave new world…
How do we ensure that, in a time of rapid change and a fast-moving news agenda, our messages are easy to find and digest? How do we pivot from crisis mode to building longer-term brand awareness and leads, both nationally and internationally? Should we continue to focus on traditional publishers against the backdrop of falling circulation and perceived obsolescence? How do we make best use of the new breed of influencers, who hold huge credibility and loyalty with our target audiences?
Change is good.
As long as it’s done right.
PR must mean more.
Public relations is a vibrant, ever-changing discipline. But now, more than ever, it needs to be taken in the right direction to make a positive, sustainable impact.
Don’t reinvent for the sake of it…
To an extent, the fundamentals of good PR haven’t changed. Its role, as always, is to engage with editors and influencers, educate and inspire stakeholders, generate leads from prospective customers, and promote and protect businesses across a range of media channels and platforms. It’s all still about public relations – and lessons learned from the past, and tried-and-true approaches are still valid, post-pandemic.
…but be open to new opportunities.
With this in mind, the PR toolkit has changed massively – and will continue to do so. Now, more than ever, it’s vital to think beyond press releases and ‘standard’ PR. Any form of content is now an opportunity: white papers, blogs, videos, infographics, podcasts, webinars and more. It’s clear that a fusion of old and new techniques and approaches are necessary in the post-normal, post-digital world – the key will be to blend them to greatest effect.
Influencers can make all the difference.
In a fundamentally changed society, credibility is a valuable currency. Engaging with a micro-influencer who has trust and credibility with your audience will generate better results than firing off a news story to your usual circulation list. Choose your influencers wisely, understand what content appeals to them, precision-target, hone and perfect your approach, and adapt your strategy to engage them in a credible PR and content drive.
Put yourself in the shoes of a humble editor, receiving hundreds of unsolicited PR approaches every day. They’ll quickly sift through and delete any content that’s out of scope, impersonal or just poorly conceived. The best way to make sure yours isn’t discarded is to invest in your relationship. Get to know their interests. Pitch ideas you know will resonate. Better still, involve them in the story via interviews, events or visits, either in person or virtually.
Expertise meets storytelling.
Your audiences will be diverse – from engineers and specifiers who need to know performance details, to C-suite stakeholders seeking to understand the impact on their bottom line. Combine solid expertise with storytelling to link the micro and the macro, highlighting how your solutions tie into this new reality, answering the wider societal or industrial trends that are shaping the post-normal world.
Living through lockdown.
And learning from it.
PR embraces other disciplines.
Search and social. Influencer marketing and CSR. Your post-normal PR plan needs to look at the bigger picture, and make a difference beyond the bottom line.
SEO becomes a critical PR tool.
Appealing to the pain points of your audience means focusing on the questions they’re asking online. So, a vital task is creating high-ranking content, which requires a deep understanding of SERPs and Google’s algorithms in order to maximise visibility. Gaining a spot as a Featured Snippet is a happy sign of SEO success, but a comprehensive, sustainable approach must be taken over time to ensure your brand and content get to – and stay at – the top of the rankings.
PR should never be separate from brand and business strategy. Integrating messaging into a cohesive whole helps audiences connect your story to your brand. PR is an effective lead-generation tool, attracting customers through engaging content – but it can also be so much more; an integral part of your communications arsenal. The key is, your content must be inextricably tied to your brand and offering, as well as the communications activities you use to take them to market.
Even aside from integration with brand and marketing, PR is also the best way to inform stakeholders about your brand’s vision and values – how it benefits the wider world through CSR, for example, or the ways in which your business has changed lives and industries, past, present and future. The stories and content that reinforce your business’ resilience will be critical to post-normal success, and should be firmly at the forefront of any successful international PR strategy.
Internal and external consistency.
Your internal stakeholders are one of the most important ‘publics’ to consider in public relations – especially now that they all likely have a presence and an audience on social media. Securing buy-in from internal audiences can amplify your messages. However, internal and external messaging must also be consistent, authentic and genuine – particularly in a world where value increasingly resides in empathy, sensitivity and a sense of collective responsibility.
Embracing lockdown lessons.
We’ve all had to do things differently. Campaigns parked, messages tweaked, new stories told – all because we’re adapting to rapid change in the news agenda and business demands. Tempting as it may be to revert to prior plans post-crisis, it’s wise to look at what you’ve achieved: high-value, responsive, resonant communications to promote and protect your brand and business. That’s what we’re all trying to achieve – so, we need to bear in mind the lessons, agility and drive we’ve found by applying technology and human ingenuity in this challenging time.
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