2021 is looking to be an exciting, yet challenging year for almost any company. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, shop, and even live our day-to-day lives. While the promise of vaccines is giving everyone hope, we can’t expect 2021 to be a return to normal, at least not right away.
Entire industries have had to completely rethink their business models. Some have, unfortunately, disappeared entirely. This creates a challenge for public relations professionals to do their jobs of communicating important information from their companies in a positive manner. Here are five strategies that will help you do this effectively in the new year.
Be sensitive to the state of the world
COVID-19 has affected everyone, whether you are an account executive for a construction scheduling software firm or a frontline caregiver. Many of us have lost jobs, homes, and even loved ones, to the virus. In addition, the state of unrest and divisiveness in America in the wake of a summer filled with protests and a combative election season cannot be ignored. That doesn’t mean you have to address these issues directly in your PR messaging or take a firm stance if you don’t want to. You must, however, be sensitive to these issues as you craft your branding and strategy. Err on the side of caution and avoid trite clichés.
Be consistent—and platform conscious—with news releases
The rise of digital marketing through static web banners, video pre-rolls, social media posts and ads, retargeting and geofencing to name a few has made it more possible than ever to preach to the general public almost anywhere at any time. Steve Jobs’ Apple Keynote Speeches and TED Talks have inspired a generation of executives and PR pros to create streaming video presentations in lieu of printed news releases.
Regardless of which platforms you enlist to deploy your messaging, you need to adhere to the marketing 101 concept of being consistent, using the same brand marks, keywords and talking points on each. However, it is also important to tailor your content to each platform, realizing that posting a link to a printed release on Twitter is not the same as crafting an effective tweet that will say the same thing. Think about your audience and what platforms they are likely to use. Then research the most effective way to present information on them and create platform-specific versions of your releases. It may seem like extra work, but it is worth the time.
Utilize content marketing
In the disconnected, post-COVID world, consumers crave messaging that speaks to them on a deeper level (whether they realize it or not). Content marketing, where your brand is less the focus of your advertising, is a powerful tool to employ. This can be any piece of media that either provides a benefit (like DIY or how-to videos) or highlights good deeds done by your company or others (like footage of a charity event.)
We’ve all been exposed to confusing or downright false messaging from business and political leaders. While PR professionals should always try to put positive spin on their communications to portray their company in the best possible light, outright lies must be avoided. This may be a delicate balance, but falsehoods will eventually damage your reputation. Honesty must be the best policy. 2020 has shown us that the public would rather know what’s really going on than be given false reassurances.
Match a face to the message
Finally, consider the messenger. If you have a charismatic CEO, it may be in your best interest as a PR manager to step aside and let them deliver information to the media and front news conferences. It will buy you goodwill with the public that might not necessarily hit quite the same way with even the most seasoned PR pro.
2021 promises to be a year like no other. Public relations people need to be ready for anything, but these principles should apply to almost any situation that can arise.