PR and the Pandemic has been Absoloutley Fabulous
23.03.21

Reflection Day: A Year on

It’s hard to believe we went into our first national lockdown a year ago. We have all adapted to new ways of working and living. Home-Schooling has played a big part for many families, like myself, but on the whole we’ve mostly survived.

For me, and many others I know within the creative industry, the last year has been busier than ever.  Surprisingly so when there has been so much uncertainty in the world. But then again not that surprising as businesses have had to step up, stay in people’s minds and continue to tell their story.

Those companies that have previously allocated budget elsewhere or simply not seen the merit in PR have quickly learnt the value it can add, and the different ways you can communicate your message as digital and virtual platforms have taken centre stage.

So why has PR been so important during the pandemic?

Despite what the characters Patsy and Eddie invoke about the world of PR in ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, it hasn’t been all champagne and vodka. For most PR’s, it’s required a great set of skills, adaption to new ways of interacting with clients and a lot of hard work.

PR is about sending the right messages to the right place and the right people, creating a stronger brand reputation. With this in mind, Covid has brought PR to the forefront of the agenda for many businesses, especially those that not only want to survive, but more importantly want to thrive post-pandemic.

One major change has been the way companies are communicating with their target audience. It’s been important to be careful in how you tell your story—and evaluate whether it’s the right time to be telling it at all. Being empathetic, sensitive and building trust around your messaging has played an important part. Those that have done it well will be remembered long after this is all over.

PR compliments the digital world we live in

Fortunately, we are immersed in a digital world meaning everyone is better connected and this is an area that has boomed. Particularly at a time when media relations have been impacted by a decline in advertising and the reduced distribution of newsprint. Newsrooms have been cut back to the bone and many journalists furloughed.

The PR industry, like many other professions, has had a massive onboarding in virtual working. We’ve witnessed events and campaigns have shifted online, and with great success. In fact, this is something that I think will continue when normalcy resumes. Mainly because it works, and this way of connecting has demonstrated lots of positive outcomes.

Social media, in particular, has really helped companies to create a strong online presence that is highly visible to their target audience. Companies are really seeing the value in telling their story online to gain maximum reach.

This is an area I’ve seen huge uplift in for me personally as requests to manage client’s social media platforms have been much higher compared to pre-pandemic levels. It’s a powerful tool and people are understanding the true value in using it consistently.

What have been the biggest changes?

We all are familiar with the term ‘no risk, no gain’. It’s been tough times for businesses that need to stay afloat and for that, they needed to quickly prioritise their services to survive. At the same time realising this is the right time to grab the market by the scruff of the neck and thrive.

It’s like a lightbulb has gone on for many business owners; ‘Oh I meant to get round to PR, ‘I don’t have the time for PR’ or ‘I don’t need to do PR as business is great’. Or at least it was great before everything changed overnight.

Even the big FTSE 100 players understand the importance of advertising, conducting interviews with the press, engaging in virtual conferences, and updating their social media channels consistently.

Thankfully, more business owners are thinking more strategically and enlisting or outsourcing PR experts to help build their brand and reputation. Some are slower than others, but the important thing is they are understanding the power of PR, especially when it comes to new business wins and relationship building.

I’ve certainly had more conversations around PR and how it can work for my clients over the last 12 months. They are now seeing the value in investing in PR, which is great progress.

Looking ahead to the new normal

Remember that companies are designed for the long-haul. Building a brand’s visibility, thought leadership, market competitiveness and reputation requires dedication and perseverance. It doesn’t just happen overnight, it can be a slow burner.

For now though, it’s good to see companies taking risks, investing in PR and being more proactive, rather than reactive. And for this I applaud them as it will certainly serve them well long-term. Companies of all sizes and sectors have everything to play for.

If you need to raise your profile and get a PR strategy in place, please get in touch to start a conversation zoe.symonds@polkadotmedia.co.uk.