Well, we’re here. The pinnacle of all crisis communications workshops, lessons and exercises is upon us. As public relations students, we have learned about how to deal with crises of all sizes and shapes, but none of us were prepared to understand a global issue of this level. We are all feeling overwhelmed about all the challenges the coronavirus brings to the table, but as a student and rising PR professional, there is a lot to work through on a personal, professional and educational level. Here are some ways to use your PR skills to get through the challenges in your way.
1) Assess the situation and make a plan.
Having a proactive crisis plan is crucial for many companies and agencies to use when something goes wrong. However, COVID-19 is a crisis no one could ever prepare for. This is uncharted territory for everyone – so use this to your advantage to create a plan that works for you. Public relations professionals make plans for every project and event in order to continuously make smart, insightful decisions at every twist and turn. Whether you are dealing with the loss of a job or internship, confusion with your new online classes or general worry about the state of the world, look at your situation from a high-level perspective to plan for what you can do next.
2) Think strategically.
In a crisis, PR pros act as more than just that; they become a full strategic counsel for their clients to help them through the time ahead. It’s crucial to deeply think about the upcoming campaigns and plans in order to give the best recommendations possible. When you are feeling worried and panicked, being strategic and intentional can be really hard. However, it’s extremely important to evaluate if your plan has potential. Instead of plotting a way to fail this semester and have extra time in Athens (which I am guilty of), think strategically about future potential visits and how you can maximize your time and energy then.
3) Be scrappy and creative.
As I previously said, no one knows how to deal with a pandemic like this. This creates a platform for agencies and companies to come up with as many crazy, scrappy, creative ideas they can for clients and consumers. Almost anything goes right now. Use this to your advantage! Have virtual happy hours with your friends, ask your professors for additional ways to connect in an online space, create TikTok content that inspires and entertains others or start a blog about your favorite recipes. Let your creative brain flow at this time to really go after your personal brand or professional efforts.
4) Use your voice as a platform to help others.
The end goal of every public relations professional is to tell a story that impacts other people. Whether that is through creating an experience, spreading the word, or making a statement, our job is to make people listen. Use your voice now to make people listen and make a change. Whether you want to start a social media petition to change a lawmaker’s mind, write letters to a nursing home to spread some joy or, most importantly, stay home and social distance to protect others, use this time to make a difference and elevate your platform.
The most important skill of PR professionals is communication. It is key to share details and information, especially when that information is changing so quickly. You all know how crucial it is to communicate to people as a PR star. Don’t hesitate to continue that practice, especially when we are all isolated and distanced. If you need help, talk to someone. If you think of something significant, say it. If you have a question, ask it. Over-communication is critical when all of the channels of communication have moved virtually.
None of our struggles will ever amount to the stress healthcare professionals, essential workers, immunocompromised people and other affected parties are dealing with right now, but we can still plan our journey getting through this pandemic and learn so much about ourselves and our abilities, both personal and professional. You all are PR stars, and we’ll get through this time together. Stay healthy.