Coronavirus is unlike any crisis we have encountered in our lifetime. Your first instinct may be to have your company turn away from public relations and advertising and just lay low. The smartest business leaders will tell you that’s a rookie mistake. The reality is, what you do during this crisis will make or break your brand. People are watching to see what your company does and will act accordingly when things move forward again.

The key is adapting and leading in this moment in time. PR strategies can’t continue as usual right now. With constant COVID-19 content flooding the media channels, the focus of the world is on coronavirus updates, health, well-being of family and friends and the government. New strategies are essential and need to be put in place so they can benefit you now, as well as after the panic dissipates and we reemerge from sheltering in place.

So, what should you be doing?

1.    Ensure all press releases are important, timely, or provide a public benefit
News outlets are focused on COVID-19 news, so getting them to focus on another topic needs to be worth it. People are dealing with real issues, so think twice before sending a release that could be perceived as self-serving or exploitative and focus on news suitable to the current environment. Positive plays best.

2.     Reassess your advertising strategy
Use keyword research to identify topics and themes important to readers, then optimize any PR and ads appropriately. Create headlines that your audience is searching for. Repurpose content for omni-channel marketing and focus on both organic and paid opportunities that will create the impact you want.

3.     Connect with your audience in real time
Your agency partner can help you strategize a calendar and framework for virtual webinars, town halls, and live video feeds that can benefit your clients, tenants, community, or industry. Finding the right partners to include in these endeavors can add an additional layer of value.

4.     Update your website
Except for essential businesses, we are all home now, so the odds of people visiting your website area lot higher. Take this time to update your content and design. Optimize content to rank higher in search engines. And, most importantly, make sure everything is accurate. 

5.     Stay engaged through social media channels
Social media is king right now. Lean into it to facilitate collaboration and interaction, creating and maintaining a sense of community and connection.There are many ways to achieve this – share information, offer valuable insights, or provide real-time updates on your company.

6.     Geta crisis communication plan in place
Internal communication is vital in any crisis. Whether it’s a pandemic, a workplace shooting, or protestors, it is important to have strategy in place so you know who to contact and who will connect with media. Your agency can help you minimize damage to your brand, reputation, and profitability by ensuring clear and consistent communication.

7.     Write thought leadership pieces
Consider a guest commentary or blog post. It can be something related to coronavirus or something to have ready to go at a later date. This can pay off when media outreach and life as usual resumes. Showcasing you and your company as a thought leader can go a long way when people search your name trying to see what you’re all about.

8.     Do something to support your community
The most important thing here is doing something with authentic, genuine intent.People will see right through a promotional stunt. Find a cause you believe in and figure out the best way for your company to show support. This is the thing people will remember about you when all is said and done.

Public relations work never ends. It is more important and even more valuable now, in this moment. As coronavirus quarantines and social distancing eventually flatten the curve and slow down the spread of this virus, we need to prepare for the next stage of this pandemic and how we move back into life and business. PR professionals ensure your brand remains strong and emerges even stronger, making your transition back into public life a smooth one.

Blog By Nicholas E. Adams, president and ceo, NINICO Communications

A member of the SVO, Nicholas E. Adams is president & ceo of public relations agency NINICO Communications with offices in San Jose and Los Angeles.

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