I’m sure a lot of people back in March last year didn’t think we’d still be stuck indoors due to coronavirus. But here we are, still changing, adapting and trying to predict what’s going to happen in the next three to six months.
So far, there have been some great examples of how companies have dealt with their communications creatively over this period, such as Aldi and Brewdog’s ‘beef’ over Aldi’s rip-off IPA. Then there have been brands that completely missed the mark, but I won’t go into that here.
It’ll be hard to find a brand that hasn’t been affected by the pandemic – particularly when it comes to PR and marketing budgets. In fact, according to a recent IPA Bellweather study, marketing budgets in the UK have suffered the highest cuts in the 20+ history of the report.
However, just because the majority are doing it does that mean that it’s the right thing to do? As a PR agency, we’re always going to argue no, and there is evidence to back this up. A study by Harvard Business School researchers shows that companies that cut marketing investment come off worse when coming out of a downturn.
But that aside, here are our top three reasons to keep doing PR during the pandemic based on our 25+ experience in the industry:
- Communication is still important
Never write the importance of communications off. Now more than ever your stakeholders, be it, customers, staff or investors, will look to you for assurance. Whether that’s about operations, customer service or delivery the best way to do this is through communications – so keep the communications flowing because once those relationships are gone, they’re very hard to build back up again. It may not always be positive news but by having that constant stream of information going you will avoid assumptions being made, you need to be open and honest with your audience. This is especially true when it comes to the media – you want to keep those strong relationships so that when you’re ready to kick-start wider campaigns, they still know who you are and what your business is about.
- PR can be flexible
You may have the impression that PR is something that requires a big budget and isn’t very flexible. I’m happy to tell you that you don’t need to do extravagant ideas or invest in a big PR campaign. Part of this is having an agency and account team that respond to your current needs. Your account team should advise and guide you through any situation you find yourself in and if that means reducing spend or reallocating some budget to focus on a different area such as crisis comms then there’s nothing to say that can’t be done.
- PR can be so much more
There’s more to PR than the traditional media relations. Whether that’s working with you on social and digital, delivering creative campaigns or incorporating marketing elements, the agencies of today have broader skills across channels and can tailor make campaigns to suit your business needs – now and into the future. More than that, account teams often act as an extension of your own and have tremendous value to add over above “traditional PR”, especially in times like this when a crisis comms plan is so important.
In times like this PR still has an incredibly important role to play in maintaining brand health and engaging with your audiences — whether you’re using it in the same way as before or in an adapted way. And with budgets being cut, working with the right team can help you realise your ever-important return on investment.
By Associate Director, Charlotte Causley