How COVID PR is changing the way we communicate, together

by | Apr 16, 2020 | Analysis, Covid-19, Public Relations

Every communications professional knows that there are pros and cons to living in the world of instant information. The current, unprecedented situation is making that fact more obvious than ever. The media is simultaneously disseminating doctor-approved tips to stop the spread of COVID-19, while also spreading misinformation regarding false cures. And, while Americans may disagree on some aspects of the pandemic, one thing we can all agree on is that the world will never be the same. This is equally true for the world of communications and public relations.

Like any news report will tell you, the coronavirus has created a situation that our world has never experienced. This lack of protocol is making the reactions from businesses, organizations, influencers, celebrities and everyday people that much more interesting and important

The American consumer is responding to positivity and kindness like never before

The best received stories on the news right now are the uplifting ones, such as Hanesbrands pitching in to make 1 million medical-grade masks a weekthe New England Patriots plane delivering 1.2 million N95 masks and Christian Siriano, the first to start the designer turned mask maker trend, has already made more than 8,000 masks alone for New York City hospitals.

That being said, it is extremely important for companies to respond positively, without sounding tone deaf. The world of marketing, communications and PR is now faced with the daunting task of juggling the severity of the situation and the importance of remaining upbeat without being insensitive. This will undoubtedly change communications forever.

Speaking of the news, it should be noted that American media consumption is booming

Based on Nielson data from prior major crises in recent U.S. history, total TV usage increased by nearly 60 percent. Living rooms across the country now have a constant stream of news coming in, while couches are occupied sun-up, sun-down with people scrolling through social media feeds. This is naturally changing social media trends and influencer marketing. Influencers are adjusting by producing more content for less and launching authentic social good initiatives. TikTok jumped to the most downloaded app for Q1 2020. These fun, uplifting trends prove that, at the end of the day, people still need reasons to smile.

Stories about families and communities coming together are now flooding the news

The sounds of clapping and cheering have been deafening the streets of Manhattan with people joining together from their windows to show support for essential workers during hospital shift changes. Superheroes no longer wear capes and role models are no longer popstars; they’re the nurses, doctors, first responders and essential workers risking their lives everyday on the front lines.

Families are spending more quality time together than they have in years. Puzzle companies can’t even keep up with their recent success. With a decrease in road traffic, air traffic and industry, the plummet in pollution can be looked at as a small victory. With so much time to reflect, Americans have redefined what is really important.

In an odd twist of circumstances, this dramatic increase in uncertainty and distress made Americans pause and put things into perspective, emphasizing the importance of community—and for PR pros, speaking authentically to communities more than ever. This pandemic has connected our country by being alone, but alone together. Social distancing has brought us closer while keeping us six feet apart. It’s scary adjusting to a new reality and understanding a new normal, but it is comforting to know that it’s everyone’s new reality and normal. Though the world will never be the same after Covid-19, we can all learn from this pandemic and move forward, together.

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Cindy Riccio
Cindy Riccio is the President and Founder at CRC (Cindy Riccio Communications, Inc.) in New York City.

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