“PR During a Pandemic – Where Do We Go From Here” by Olivia Strauss

2020 has presented the world with an array of challenges ranging from a global pandemic, to the election and deadly wildfires. While PR Professionals learn crisis communications, there is no handbook on a global pandemic. So how do PR professionals promote their clients and build a relationship with their audiences when most of their audiences are worrying about where their next paycheck will come from?

First thing’s first: This is not business as usual.

Companies are re-evaluating and reinventing themselves right now. They’re asking themselves what can they do to stand out in a time like this. What works and what needs to go? What needs to be updated? This also means that people are watching. Now is the time to be empathetic with your audience and think is this appropriate right now? Will this make our company look good? Will this come off as tone-deaf? Projects and initiatives that were important six months ago, may be completely inappropriate and illogical now. The way you act during a crisis like this sets up how people will view your business in the long run, so make acceptable impressions!

This could be a great opportunity to build long-term relationships.

It could also be a great opportunity to build on some old ones! Take this extra time at home to take advantage of the technology we have and stay connected. Reach out to that LinkedIn connection from a year ago that you haven’t heard from in a while. Do your research and know what your audience needs right now. Again, ask yourself, is this appropriate? Don’t be afraid to check in on your loved ones, coworkers and clients. Building trust and creating loyal relationships is the best way to survive times like these. People will feel comforted and safe if they know that they can trust you and your brand, and if you can establish this now, you can build long lasting relationships.

Now what? Do some charity work.

Right now, people need to see some good in the world. Publicly thank those that are helping out during this time of need whether they are a front-line healthcare worker or a grocery store cashier — they matter. It is important to recognize our heroes of today. Eat and shop locally to help small businesses stay in business! Don’t be afraid to give them some extra love on social media and bring them awareness during these tough times.

Most importantly, be empathetic.

Use social media and establish new relationships and build on old ones. Don’t be afraid to try something new and test out some new formats — everyone could use some excitement right now. Provide helpful information for your audience to help them with current issues, offer resources and don’t be afraid to show how your services can personally help them during this time. Most importantly, stay healthy and stay safe.

Olivia, Strauss is a Journalism – Strategic Communications Major and can be found on Twitter @0liviastrauss (with a zero)

Olivia Strauss is a journalism: strategic communication major and can be found on Twitter @0liviastrauss

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