How PR Strategies Need to Change in This Moment of Upheaval
Always be adapting.
The pandemic has certainly been a reckoning in all spheres of society, especially in business. For brands and customers, it seems like everything has been in a state of decline over the last few months, whether it be revenue, sales, new business or customer acquisitions. It’s often a joke that marketing and PR are the first line items to be cut in times of budget crunch, but not everyone was laughing this year.
Our professional services team — which includes consulting, financial, HR, recruiting, legal, marketing, and advertising clients — has a proven track record of delivering industry-leading outcomes and are ranked consistently among the top-10 leading agencies in the United States in the professional services specialty category. We know many companies have stumbled in terms of communicating by sending out messages that have been received as obtuse, out of touch, and in some cases, harmful. In a world where every person is glued to a screen at any given time — and more than ever before — a company’s reputation should be one of its most protected assets in maintaining its bottom line.
If there is any value that should remain top of mind in PR today, it must be empathy. The media industry in particular has been reckoning with budget cuts, layoffs and keeping up with a neverending news cycle, bearing a heavy burden with increasingly limited resources. A good PR strategy must rely on ideas and content that make their jobs easier and alleviates the need to conduct extensive research. This means providing insight on the most important trends being discussed in the news and unique perspectives on what specific industries are grappling with.
While the pandemic has been the nexus of much of the cultural discourse in the media, the subject of intersectionality has been another moment of great upheaval. In the wake of instances of police brutality and protests against racial injustice, businesses have been forced to reevaluate their company culture, policies and messaging to ensure that their constituents feel represented and valued no matter which demographic they fall under.
Any PR strategy should involve doing due diligence in ensuring that all external communications do not exclude any demographic from any initiative, and proactively find ways to promote inclusivity and diversity. More importantly, it must be clear that these initiatives are intended to contribute to the collective social good and not simply for a more favorable reputation, or getting “fake woke points.”
With more eyeballs on digital and social channels, PR strategies need to adapt their efforts to match the real estate. In addition to computer screens, audiences are increasingly consuming content on mobile devices. But it’s not as simple as adapting content to fit a smaller screen. The style and syntax should also change fundamentally. Millennials, and Gen-Z in particular, show an increasing preference for shorter, digestible content, so companies need to adjust communications efforts to match
It’s unlikely that the world will return to what it once was before 2020, but that shouldn’t be a source of anxiety. In fact, engaging in self-reflection from a communications perspective can set a business up for success while the business world recovers. Companies that are in-tune with the media landscape and that provide value beyond general news will stand out as the winners in the new normal. PR strategies should always adapt, with or without a pandemic, and this year has presented a wealth of opportunities to do so.
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