How Covid-19 Has Changed the Future of Public Relations

Over the past six months, the global coronavirus pandemic has impacted every industry in some shape or form. Public relations is no exception. The virus has fundamentally changed brand relationships with the media and consumers, with PR professionals being at the forefront of this shift. We’ve recapped our biggest takeaways on how COVID-19 has shaped the future of public relations.

Conducting Thoughtful, Targeted Media Outreach

COVID-19 spurred an exponential increase in the public’s consumption of news media. With hourly updates on the virus spread, hospitalizations, potential vaccines and more, people have come to rely heavily on the media for timely updates and reliable sources of news. 

During the pandemic, PR professionals realized the need to be even more diligent with media outreach, as self-promotional or irrelevant pitch topics could be viewed as tone-deaf by reporters. However, media outreach during this time has shown that reporters are open to receiving “feel-good” stories as a way to combat COVID-19 fatigue among audiences. This gives PR professionals an opportunity to showcase how their clients are helping employees, customers, the community and larger industries during the global health crisis. 

Reporter beats is another facet of media relations impacted by the virus. During the pandemic, many reporters have changed the topics they write about, which makes it even important to be purposeful in media targeting and outreach. 

Developing Timely, Authentic Communication

Communication has never been as imperative for organizations as it has been during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stakeholder expectations for timely and credible information have not changed, but what has is the need for authentic and genuine communication. Social consciousness is here to stay, and brands need to craft messages that focus on solutions – not selling – and open lines of communication to honestly connect with their audiences. Consumers are also expecting brands to go beyond words, and take action to advocate and support the community at large. According to Edelman’s Trust and Brands research report, 44% of respondents said they began using a new brand because it responded to the pandemic in an innovative or a compassionate way.

Leaders within organizations large-and-small have turned to PR professionals to help craft these critical messages and develop advocacy initiatives. The PR industry was built for speed and agility, allowing these professionals to lean into culture and news cycles to create and implement communication strategies quickly and effectively. 

Establishing the Importance of Crisis Communications

Another significant PR takeaway during this pandemic is the importance of having a crisis communication plan. Crisis communication was escalated at the start of the pandemic, and has remained a top priority as the virus continues to evolve.

PR professionals will be relied upon to take the lessons learned from the pandemic and incorporate them into an updated crisis plan. Of these lessons, establishing processes and protocols that allow organizations to easily flex andpivot during crises is paramount. This flexibility is integral for organizations to quickly adapt during a constantly and quickly changing environment.

This global health crisis has made company reputations more important than ever. PR professionals will be the go-to resource for helping brands protect and build their reputations through media outreach, communications strategy, crisis planning and much more for the foreseeable future.

For more information on how HCK2 can help your business’ PR initiatives, please contact Kerri Fulks at Kerri.Fulks@hck2.com

Additional Sources:
https://instituteforpr.org/the-profound-impact-of-covid-19-on-activism-and-pr/

https://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2020/43240/the-state-of-public-relations-covid-19s-impact-on-the-industryhttps://www.provokemedia.com/latest/article/covid-19-what-it-means-for-news-consumption