October 08: Public relations is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization to the public in order to affect their public perception and reputation, “says Vishal Kashyap, director of coral100. COVID-19 has changed our life to a new extent; it has changed the ideology and mindset of people. People these days prefer staying at home rather than visiting offices or gatherings. The best PR is like a magnet that attracts the right prospects. After a while, educated consumers are the ones who are likely to trust the brand enough to spend money with it.
The new normal, far from being an empty cliche, COVID19 has truly changed the things we took for granted. It is an evolutionary moment not just for business in general but for PR in particular. With marketing budgets as the first “costs” being cut, brands are rethinking how to reach their audience. It’s PR’s time to shine: with some thoughtful positioning, PR could finally step into the leading role it’s always longed for.
Here are the reasons PR became essential after the pandemic:
- PR can navigate a crisis
While many PR agencies have had a harsh year, in-house PR teams have been proving their worth; working around the clock adjusting messaging, giving interviews, writing crisis communications plans, and keeping customers at ease. Especially in the first couple of months after the outbreak of COVID-19, PR teams have been vital for businesses. Companies without a good communications professional onboard have been struggling; they’ve learned that crisis communications are not to be taken lightly.
- PR is cost-effective
The coronavirus outbreak has impacted marketing budgets in pretty much any industry: both positively and negatively. Industries such as apparel, non-profits, healthcare, and hobbies & leisure have seen better PPC results, whilst the most significant chunk of industries has seen the efficiency of their campaigns drop and costs increase. Many companies responded by cutting their marketing budgets. It makes sense then that we should redirect our budgets to advertising’s more cost-effective cousin, PR. After the pandemic, it will be the job of people in PR to convince companies that they are worth the investment. It should be an easy sell: PR stories told through editorial and social can raise millions in a week (if done right.) Free media exposure is the most cost-effective way to reach your audience.
- PR strengthens relationships
PR’s main strength— building relationships— is what got us through the pandemic. Without international cooperation, vaccine development and distribution would not have happened. Relationship builders who work in PR know that to move through crisis, fostering cooperation rather than leaping to blame is the best way to get things done. In fact, going through difficult times together as agencies and clients improves relationships tenfold. It shows that you are a solid and trustworthy partner. That also applies to relationships within the company. COVID has seen greater collaboration between departments. We’ve seen a real sweet spot when PR, marketing, social media, and digital work in various companies.
- PR builds trust
Central to building relationships is trust, a company’s most valuable asset, and gaining it is in PR’s wheelhouse. The COVID-19 pandemic proved that brands are expected to do more for society, with 62% of people saying their country will not make it through this crisis without brands playing a critical role that means solving the problem. Those with the leadership to act during this time have strengthened the bond they have with consumers. Adapting to changing public opinion during the pandemic was a make-or-break skill. It’s up to us communicators to (re)build trust with the public and pass on public opinion to management to ensure these unethical, greedy actions don’t happen again.
- PR keeps brands relevant
PR is good at responding to changing consumer needs. It’s how it helps companies stay relevant. PR can help guide brands as they pivot. Gym chains switching to home workout videos or liquor brands launching virtual bars will only survive with good PR— with a third of consumers saying they’ve started using a new brand because of the innovative or compassionate way it has responded to the pandemic. Google’s rising retail habits are a fascinating insight into some of the new industries that have grown out of the crisis. In the public sector, communicators have never been busier, as public education and information are crucial. Quickly adapting to changes in the market is just as key to PR’s survival as an industry.