An adapted approach to PR

By Susan Richter, Marketing Communications Manager

Whiteoaks Team Talk – Session wrap-up

In these times of adjusting to new living and working practices it’s vital that we keep the lines of communication open and keep conversations going. With that in mind, we recently hosted our first Team Talk Session, an informal forum for our clients and businesses we’d like to work with to chat about their PR and marketing experiences. The conversations were structured around two key areas:

While each client had different perspectives, everyone agreed that the world is still turning, businesses have to keep going and do what they can to survive. The challenge is in finding a balance between that business-as-usual approach and sensitivity around our current circumstances. For the most part it’s communication and messaging that plays the critical role here.

A softer approach

The general consensus was that the so-called “hard sell” approach had taken a back seat to more authentic conversations, focused on longevity of relationships and helping customers with their current needs. Ultimately, people still want to feel connected; it just means approaching PR and marketing slightly differently.

Participants also said they were focusing more on building / maintaining existing relationships with their clients and less on establishing connections with prospects. However, that’s not to say they are not communicating with them at all.

Overall, communication needs to tick three boxes. It needs to be:

This also applies to social media. Before the current crisis, social media messaging was aligned to business objectives and target audiences. That hasn’t changed. Instead, just as with other PR and marketing activity, the content priorities and tone have been adapted.

Social media is being consumed more now than ever before and for brands it’s not the time to walk away from social media. The key is to create smart and informed content based on customer need. Many companies are using it to keep both staff and customers up to date and engaged and are actively monitoring social conversations to find ways to engage with audiences to create stronger connections.

Importantly, companies are re-assessing their paid campaigns to ensure the messaging is still relevant.

Try new tactics

We also talked about adjusting our approach — if content, such as video for example, generated in a home office, isn’t professional enough or doesn’t set the required tone, rethink it. In the same way, with so many events and trade shows being placed on hold, organisers have turned to virtual environments to bring people together. Whether this is through a pre-recorded webinar or a live-streamed event, businesses that are using these events as part of their PR and marketing campaigns also need to adjust their approach.

This discussion raised another important question, one that won’t be answered in the near future. That was: what does the future of the events industry look like? Once we come out of lockdown and the country is once again truly open for business, will the appetite for live events still be there? Or will this new virtual approach change the landscape forever?

One element that may sway thinking is the fact that some of our clients that have been participating in these virtual events say that the quality of their lead generation is actually better. On the other hand, it does remain a challenge to balance the conference or keynote discussion activity with networking activity, which is where the real human interaction typically takes place at a show and is arguably some of the most important time spent with audiences.

In it together

The session finished off with us all sharing the virtual activities we are doing to keep staff engaged and motivated, from pub quizzes and bingo, to photo challenges, lunch and learn sessions, and digital drinks.

Our next Team Talk Session is scheduled for w/c 20 April — keep an eye on your inbox and our social feeds to find out more.