The escalation of COVID-19 cases from a relatively small number of cases in China to a global pandemic has transformed every industry and all aspects of our lives with alarming velocity. With headlines about the coronavirus dominating the news, it’s challenging to develop marketing and PR plans and execute accordingly.

Now the institutions are taking bold stances and rolling out PR campaigns that bridge the gap between crisis and resolution, without losing sight of their core values. No doubt, the result will be fabulous after the world gets out of the clutch of the pandemic. In the case of companies, by proving they’re people-centric now, they’ll be top-of-mind when consumers look for customer-centric brands beyond the moment.

It’s important to remember that media relations are not synonymous with public relations. Media coverage is only one tactic from a wide array of initiatives that a seasoned PR person can offer. Building a brand’s visibility, thought leadership, market competitiveness, and reputation requires dedication and perseverance. The process is slow, very slow.

While it’s hard to predict what changes will come over the next few months, here are three strategies that can help us recalibrate our PR plans right now and survive or even thrive. Consider how you or your client might add value to people in your industry during this time, and orient your PR strategy around those key points.

The first one:

Media outlets, reporters, and editors are actively seeking thought leaders and experts to provide insights, expertise, and advice on relevant and timely topics. Make the most of it and make a list of all those people in your organization who have the expertise and also skill to put it forward in charming words. Get them a platform wherein they start with a social messaging that has the central theme of the core value of your organization. In a Coronavirus world, people are looking to influencers and leaders they trust to navigate them through the challenging times.

The second one:

The digital transformation is fully upon us, with more people working from home than ever before. They get enough time to explore and browse as they are saving the travel and other unnecessarily dragged time. Put some innovative ideas that directly associate themselves with your organization, though remotely. A free and roving mind absorbs a thought and acts on it, that’s an old saying.

The third one:

The third and most important is the human element. People want to hear real stories from real people more than they want to read miscellaneous quotes sprinkled aimlessly. A smart PR expert will try always to have the much-needed and much sought-after human touch in all his campaigns by curating a media presence in a strategic manner that emphasizes transparency and promotes the human element.

The final takeaway from my vast experience in the field is

Augment your social networking activities and don’t continue to send the same pitches to the stakeholders as well as media that you were sending a year back. Those will look insensitive in these hard times and irrelevant. People need positivity while having a negative RT PCR Report.

History has shown that some of the most prominent brands have started and flourished during tough times. If history continues to be our guide, we’ll see more innovations emerge this year. Now might be as good of a time as any to build and hone your brand’s story.

To sum up, in fact, the very basic function of Public Relations now is making people feel comfortable with the new normal. A crisis like the pandemic has offered unique opportunities.

About the author: Dr. Ajai Kumar Agarwal
Dr. Ajai Kumar Agarwal
Dr. Ajai Kumar Agarwal is a veteran Public Relations person. Public Relations Council of India in its global conclave held in Bangalore has conferred on him prestigious Dr. KR Singh Memorial Life Time Achievement Award in the field of PR at the national level. It speaks a lot about his achievements. Presently he is VP Corporate Relations of the CBSL group of companies and former national president of the Public Relations Council of India (PRCI). He was heading Corporate Communications of Central Bank of India before retirement. He is also an advisor to the SME Chamber of India and has been a very prominent speaker at various gatherings, including a keynote speaker at an international conference on Media held in Rome.

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