The impact of the pandemic on social media marketing, public relations, and brand marketing
As publicists, brand marketers, and agency owners, many of us were not prepared for the coronavirus pandemic. Most of us never lived during a pandemic, let alone personally experienced one. This is where crisis communications training will become invaluable. We are used to helping clients with short-term PR fiascos or crisis communication issues. But make no mistake—we must prepare for an ongoing crisis. This will not be a crisis that will go away any time soon. As brand marketers, don’t keep marketing with your head in the sand.
As social media marketing and PR professionals, we often plan for the unexpected. But no one could have accurately predicted or planned for the massive disruption coronavirus could have on virtually every industry worldwide. Now is the time for brands and agencies to have tough conversations.
Where do we go next?
How will our marketing change in lieu of coronavirus?
What should agency professionals do during this time? How do you market and publicize during a global pandemic?
Coronavirus effects on the Marketing & PR industry
This isn’t the time to run a scheduled social media marketing or PR campaign; strategies need to adjust.
In the agency world, how marketers handle coronavirus will separate the pros from the amateurs. Remember when everyone thought they could buy social media services for a few hundred dollars because their kid in college could do it? Now this will reset the playing field.
This will be a time when it will suddenly be glaringly obvious why certain agencies charge a premium for marketing and PR services. The bottom of the barrel marketers will keep marketing through this as if nothing is going on. Their posts will be tone-deaf. They will not pause scheduled tweets or pre-written content for campaigns and will continue to market as if we were still living in a pre-Coronavirus digital media environment.
The premium agency pros, however, will know now is the time to pause and reflect. Strategy means knowing when to stay silent just as much as it means knowing what to post and when. Clients may hem and haw and ask, “What am I paying you for if you aren’t going to post anything?”
They are paying you because you know the difference between when to shout from the rooftop and when to be quiet.
Do not use this as a cheap marketing ploy to get more customers for your brand. Unless you are a medical professional, tread lightly with the content you put out. This means doing a total 360 on your social media marketing strategy. Now is not the time to share the beautiful creative you had prepared ninety days out. Save it for another day or another quarter.
Coronavirus will impact every sector and industry including marketing, public relations and social media.
Here are ten things every PR agency professional should consider during a COVID-19 brand quarantine:
- Marketers need to prepare for this situation and have a contingency plan for their client’s campaigns as well as their media strategy. Have the tough conversations.
- Media buying budgets will be impacted if businesses lose the money they planned to spend to place ads. Discuss this with your clients before placing any other media buys. You can’t spend money they don’t have.
- Pause scheduled tweets or any content that has been written for the campaign. It will look tone-deaf.
- Do not use this as a marketing ploy to try to get more customers. Unless you are a medical professional, tread lightly on the content you put out for consumers.
- Don’t try to newsjack as a PR hook to get increased brand mentions for coronavirus. 1 % of you will get it right, the other 99% will get it wrong and suffer irreparable brand damage. People will remember how you handle your marketing during this time. Take a strong leadership position instead of looking at this as an opportunity to get press. The risk of a negative brand association is far greater than the upside of a positive brand association. Think carefully about that before trying to newsjack.
- If you don’t have anything thoughtful to contribute to the conversation, stay quiet. It is better to stay quiet than to contribute noise, misinformation or fake news. I realize clients won’t like hearing this one because they are still paying for services during this time. Strategy means knowing when to stay silent just as much as it means knowing when to post or what to post. That is part of what you are paying for. Listen to your PR agency or crisis communications consultant.
- Focus on other services. Now is a great time to write fresh copy for a website that has been put on the back burner. Think about other ways to add value outside of daily social media posting.
- As a brand, use your social media channels to share helpful information and use your thought leadership marketing and digital authority for the greater good. Speak with conviction.
- Ramp up your customer service on social media platforms. If you are in the travel or hospitality sector, now is the time people will be tweeting at your brand to get refunds for canceled travel. Make sure someone is answering these tweets and direct messages to avoid a potential firestorm. You must be prepared to service these requests with your social media team.
- Do not run any paid social media ads or Google ads that run counter to the updated digital advertising guidelines around coronavirus. “On Google, brands are now restricted from buying keywords sensitive events, including disease. So, for now, there are no promoted search results appearing atop vital news services reporting on coronavirus.” Closely monitor updates put out by the CDC and Google Ads.
If you work in the Public Relations industry, don’t try to hijack the news as a public relations hook to get increased brand mentions. Only 1% of people will get it right while the other 99% will get it wrong and suffer irreparable brand damage. People will remember how you handle your marketing during this time. The risk of a negative brand association is far greater than the upside of a positive brand association. If you don’t have anything to contribute to the conversation, stay quiet. It is better to stay quiet than to contribute noise.
Impacts on Marketing Budgets
Erik Huberman, CEO of Hawke Media, believes that marketing has become more essential for companies as a result of the pandemic.
“When the 2008 recession hit, marketing was the first thing people cut because digital marketing was still not adopted at the level it is today. Marketing was considered a nice to have for growth but it was not considered necessary for survival. Now it’s more of an oxygen line and lifeblood. When Covid hit, companies that cut their marketing budgets basically committed corporate suicide. Conversely, the companies that doubled down on marketing did very well and saw economic growth.”
Jeff Coyle, CEO of MarketMuse, said that agencies grew during the pandemic by specializing and niching down.
“I was the MC for the agency stage at Content Marketing World this year, and almost every single person that I spoke with said the way they continued to grow during the pandemic was by niching down. We bring the most value in a specific vertical and we’ve been able to turn that into a way of increasing the valuation of our agencies. For example, if you are an agency that used to do conversion rate optimization, that’s not going to necessarily differentiate you. But if you do conversion rate optimization for membership management sites for lifestyle brands, well, you immediately become sought-after. How can you turn that into a way of making your agreements more valuable so that the valuation of your agency is higher?
Technical SEO, for example, has a few agencies who are really intelligent business people and they’re focused on valuation. What differentiates teams is being willing to niche down and by understanding how agencies are valued and being acquisitive.”
Digital Marketing & PR During Coronavirus
What is the role of digital marketing during the pandemic?
How do we market and publicize in a post coronavirus digital media environment where every other story is about COVID-19? What can we say that is helpful? Brands can’t stay silent forever, so when is a good time to inject your brand into the conversation?
We need to understand the changing needs of consumers and their emotional state of mind, and we must take that into consideration when marketing to them. If people are afraid, now is not the time to pretend they aren’t. Additionally, it is also not the time to market to a state of fear or panic. You must walk a fine line.
When will the Covid-19 pandemic end? Unfortunately, no one knows. Until we have an estimate, now is a great time to focus on marketing, branding, or PR projects that have been put on the back burner and do not require the daily immediacy of social media posting.
Here are five digital marketing and PR strategies and ideas to tackle:
SEO historical optimization: Rewrite old blog posts and update your content for answer engine optimization and updated keywords to try to appear in featured snippets.
Press Kit materials: Is the executive bio up to date that you have been pitching to the media for the past two years? Could a fact sheet use a refresher?
Media Interviews: Invest in a good webcam, microphone, and lighting. Set up an in-studio newsroom in your office so you can be available to do Skype interviews from home if the media requests them. If you are asked to self-quarantine, you can still do media interviews from the comfort of your own home.
Website: Everyone dreads redoing their website or thinking about their brand purpose. Now is a perfect time to think about this and take a stab at a refresh.
Organizing collateral: Have 1,000 photos from client events saved on your computer? Organize them.
MARKETING DURING CORONAVIRUS:
How should your social media marketing strategy change during a pandemic?
During a recent TV news interview, I was asked, “What is your advice to your clients – and to any of our viewers – who are using Social Media as part of their marketing strategy: business-as-usual? Or does a story like Coronavirus that “blocks-out-the-sun” dictate changing tactics? How should brands handle their social media marketing strategy during a coronavirus outbreak?”
Here are four marketing tactics to consider today when creating a crisis communications plan:
1) Pause all scheduled tweets or social media posts on third-party social media scheduling apps such as Buffer, Hootsuite or Plann.
2) Revise your marketing communications strategy to account for the impact of coronavirus COVID-19.
3) Do not put any information out unless it is from knowledgeable, credible medical experts. Fact-check all social media posts about coronavirus COVID-19 before clicking post.
4) Do not use coronavirus for cheap marketing ploy tactics. We saw a well-known PR firm do this recently with a poll around Americans buying corona beer. Don’t use coronavirus to newsjack and get your brand in the news. This is not the time to try to sell more products, price gouge, or use PR to insert yourself into the story. If you are trying to use this as an excuse to get more exposure for your company, your brand will suffer irreparable damage as well as your online reputation.
Need help with Online Reputation Management? Schedule a consultation.
Marketing & PR in the age of coronavirus – what brands need to know
Pandemic PR Tips: Pitching the media in tough media environments
Coronavirus is creating disruption across the world and throughout every industry. As marketers and publicists, this disruption will create grave uncertainty for our jobs and the digital marketing ecosystem we are accustomed to working in.
This is not business as usual. People are afraid. If you are running a major business conference that requires business travel, think long and hard about canceling it, unless you want to suffer the negative Twitter spiral like we are seeing with Expo West or SXSW. It is better to cancel early so people have time to make alternative plans.
If you do want to give back as part of a corporal social responsibility (CSR) initiative, consider creating branded hand sanitizers (if promotional companies still have them available) and give them away for free. Yes, it will cost you a few thousand dollars, but it is a nice thing to do.
Also, consider creating a social media campaign that encourages people to stay home. Italy is leading the way with this initiative with the creation of the #IStayHome social media marketing campaign, and brands could do this on a hyper-local level.
The Bottom Line: Invest time and resources in high-level strategic public relations and marketing activities. As marketers and publicists, we often say that we wish we had extra hours and if only we had more time. Well, now we do.
Let’s spend this time as effectively as possible for clients to get the most value from our services. In a social media-driven world that is dictated by the endorphin rush of on-demand marketing, this is a wake-up call and a reminder to marketers that strategy still matters.
If your brand is quarantined, spend more time on strategy and less time on using this as a quick hit PR and marketing opportunity.
A national health crisis and pandemic is not a marketing opportunity.
*This article was written by Kris Ruby of Ruby Media Group and portions of this article originally appeared as an Op-Ed on Adweek
ADWEEK: Coronavirus COVID19 Brand Marketing: How to Survive a Brand Quarantine During Coronavirus By Kris Ruby
PUBLIC RELATIONS STRATEGIES: MEDIA INTERVIEWS DURING A PANDEMIC
As an agency, we have made the decision to stop pitching doctors and medical experts for in-studio media, television or radio appearances during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many doctors have expressed hesitation about being in-studio newsrooms with COVID-19 infection risks and our agency does not want to put our medical clients or their patients at risk, so we are pitching clients to media outlets for virtual interviews. We feel this is the safe and right response during a pandemic.
CREATE A STUDIO FOR MEDIA INTERVIEWS AT HOME
Many newsrooms around the country are increasingly practicing social distancing.
What does this mean for the PR industry, clients, media commentators, pundits, and newsmakers?
If you want to do media interviews, purchase LED lighting, a good microphone, and a webcam or DSLR camera for interviews. Set up a Skype or professional Zoom account, too. This will ensure you are happy with how the interview looks regarding the production quality of the interview from your laptop or mobile phone.
The media landscape will be chaotic. Do not be surprised if a reporter cancels your pre-scheduled interview or is thirty minutes late for a call or misses it entirely. This will be the new norm over the next few months.
PR TIPS & BEST PRACTICES
MEDIA REQUESTS DURING COVID-19
The media is in overdrive with an increasingly high volume of source requests for doctors and medical professionals. Doctors are needed as sources and medical experts more now than ever before. We will continue to send out these media requests as we receive them from reporters to see if you are the right fit for what they are looking for. Do not feel obligated to respond. We don’t want the media’s timeline to add any stress to your already stressful environment. Respond to media requests you want to comment on and can genuinely add value to.
The majority of incoming media requests during the COVID-19 pandemic we have received are for infectious disease experts. If you are not an infectious disease expert, you may not be what the media is looking for. If you see other doctors consistently quoted in the news on coronavirus, it is most likely because they are infectious disease experts.
Ethically, we feel it is important that medical specialists in each vertical are commenting within their scope of practice.
Understand that every week will seem like a big media week and big news week- but just because it is, doesn’t mean that you are the right person to be commenting on it.
If you are affiliated with a hospital, please check your contract with the hospital on what you are allowed to say to media outlets regarding your affiliation. For example, you cannot tell a media outlet what it is like at a hospital you are on staff at or rounding at if your hospital prohibits you from speaking with the media about your work at the hospital. Please make sure you read the contract terms carefully and update your PR firm on what the contract terms are with each hospital you are affiliated with.
While our primary goal is always to get clients’ media exposure and press coverage, we take a strategic approach to media relations, which means knowing when not to talk, just as much as it means knowing when to push a message out.
Additionally, we will be encouraging reporters to call clients instead of submitting email responses for media requests. Speaking by phone with a reporter takes less time than drafting lengthy email responses. We are trying to be as mindful as possible of your busy schedule and don’t want to add anything to your plate, which is why we think asking reporters to speak with you by phone is ideal during this crisis. We don’t want to add to your stress level. Our agency will connect you with the media directly for requests by phone at a time that works for you and your schedule.
HIGH-LEVEL PR STRATEGIC CONSULTING: COVID-19 PANDEMIC
This is a perfect time to focus on the high-level strategic public relations goals for your medical practice. If you are finding yourself with a few extra hours because your practice has switched to telehealth services or you are working from home, click here to set up a PR discovery call. This is a great time to do all of the things we have always wanted to do. Whether it is writing new copy for your website or transcribing long-form content, this is a perfect time to do it. I am here and willing to serve you!
Patients are looking to their doctors during this time more than ever – they need help from you to navigate this crisis. If they have an emergency, they want to know you are available and see a consistent level of communication from your medical practice. You can continue to keep patients updated with tips and content that will help them during this time even if your office is not open. This is also a great time to optimize old blog content, update keywords, and create new long-form content and blogs.
MEDICAL MARKETING & MEDICAL PR STRATEGY/ MEDIA RELATIONS TIPS FOR BRAND MARKETERS AND DOCTORS
How do you pivot your marketing and public relations strategy during a pandemic and how can you provide value to clients and customers during this time?
The truth is, people are spending more time than ever before consuming content right now. More people are in front of their computers since they are not in the office and are under mandatory quarantine orders. How can you create valuable content that will reach your target audience and be genuinely beneficial?
- Change communication messaging.
- Consider using different platforms to reach a new audience.
Most consumers are in learning mode right now. They have more time to take a new course or listen to a webinar than they otherwise previously had. Tap into this to teach them.
Shift your mindset to teaching instead of selling and promoting.
If you were a professor, what would the title of your course be? Forget that you are a CEO of a business. Think of yourself as a business instructor or teacher. This is how you can effectively lead during a crisis.
In a webinar, a brand marketer said, “without marketing, these companies won’t survive.” I am not sure I agree. Without patients or customers, these companies won’t survive.
Not every brand needs to market right now.
We must remember that marketing is secondary to having a business first. You cannot market something that doesn’t exist. The function of marketing is to promote existing service offerings. As agency owners, we have to help clients reposition and rebrand to account for new consumer needs.
Companies must create new approaches and services to account for the post-pandemic digital economy and the new reality of the world we live in. The old ways of marketing are gone.
Between Covid-19, the racial protests, and economic uncertainty, getting the message right is an impossible dance and balancing act. What seemed good to post yesterday is irrelevant the next day. Content calendars are a waste because you cannot plan or predict beyond an hour at a time.
Business owners, it is up to you to be open to shifting your core service offerings so that a PR firm or brand marketer can help you adapt to this new reality. We can’t promote something that doesn’t exist, and even if you do have something that exists, it may no longer be the right offering when the dust settles. You cannot continue to market as if it is business as usual. You must focus on fixing your core service offering and business model so that you have something to market. With that being said, sometimes, there is nothing to market and nothing to say.
Marketing is ideal for some businesses vs. others during a pandemic, depending on the vertical you are in. If you are in health care and have shifted to telemedicine, yes, you should be marketing this new service offering. If you are a business that is closed right now, you may not have something new and innovative to market.
Do not listen to the marketing experts who tell you that you must market every second or you will go out of business. This is fear-mongering, and simply not true.
“Without marketing, these companies won’t survive.”
Without products and services that are primed for a post-pandemic world, these companies won’t survive.
How will you use this opportunity to use your skillset to add value to the market? There are three primary ways.
- To sell
- To lead
- To rebrand or pivot your services
MEDIA RELATIONS TIPS
How can you find new ways to talk to your consumers, patients, and stakeholders about the issues that matter most to them?
- Identify what people need or want.
- Do not sell what you think people need or want. Sell what they actually need. There is a crucial difference.
How can your brand give back? For example, can you donate supplies that frontline health care workers need? Can you use your PR or marketing skills to help nurses connect with the media to share their stories? How can you genuinely give back in a way that is organic to your brand?
If you are in the B2B space, can you get your clients to donate food or products to local hospitals?
How can you organize your clients to create something that is of genuine value?
If you work with influencers, can you redirect their marketing strategy to encourage them to use their platforms to support healthcare workers and a positive message?
Brands: Use your resources for the greater good of the country, not just the greater good of your business bank account.
For example, my public relations firm, Ruby Media Group, specializes in medical marketing and healthcare public relations. In addition to handling media relations for our medical experts with national media outlets to disseminate the latest medical information about the coronavirus pandemic, we are also helping nurses (who are not our clients) connect with media outlets, too. This is one way we are helping the public by providing critical health information. Our medical PR firm also created a pro bono social media campaign with doctors, surgeons, and frontline health care workers to help #flattenthecurve.
If you are going to insert your clients into the conversation, it must be organic, helpful and not promotional. Segway into conversations that are already happening and provide valuable information to the community.
PR Pandemic Tip: How can you get your product in the hands of first responders and frontline healthcare workers? Not as a PR opportunity, but because your product can significantly help them.
Everyone has something of value to contribute. The question is, what can YOU contribute that is valuable?
Before posting content during a pandemic, be sure to have an answer to these questions as a litmus test to see if your brand messaging is on point:
- What is the benefit to the consumer, patient, or audience reading this?
- Why are you posting this? Hint: your answer should fall into one of the three categories. (Because it is helpful, because it shows we are a leader because it shows we have repositioned our services and is a genuine news item).
- Are you truly the most qualified person to say this?
- Is there a tangible benefit to someone reading this, or would the CDC be more qualified to speak on this topic?
SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY DURING COVID-19
Content strategies must change to account for coronavirus. Content should be focused on helping people (and patients) navigate this crisis and pandemic. Please work with us so we know what your office is doing differently during this time. If your office has closed and wants to put out an email or social media post on your COVID-19 response, please send it to us so we can edit it. If you are offering telemedicine or new telehealth services, let’s work together to push that information out so you can keep seeing patients.
Social Media Tips for your business during a Pandemic
How can businesses use social media to connect with their audience during a crisis?
During a global pandemic, it is critical that you keep your audience informed on any updates to your business. Your customers and clients will turn to social media and your company website to see any policy changes on the impact of coronavirus on your products and services.
- Create a dedicated COVID-19 post and pin it to the top of your business Facebook page. Does your company have a new work-from-home policy? Will there be any shipping delays on your product due to coronavirus? Are there any promotions you are offering during this time? Are you offering telehealth services? Let your audience know and keep this as the top pinned post on your page.
- Create custom social media graphics with public health stats. The CDC launched a social media toolkit to help businesses disseminate factual information on COVID19. Canva has also created graphics that you can use in your business social media campaign. We have included the links to both resources at the end of this article.
- Be ready to make changes to your social media posts as the news evolves. Every day the news changes on coronavirus, which means that something you posted on Facebook yesterday may not be applicable or accurate today. Use threads and Covid updates to keep fans up to date. Don’t be afraid to admit you may have been wrong as the news continue to evolve. It is better to admit that something changed than to ignore a factual error.
- Boost social media posts. Never dabbled in boosting your Facebook posts? Now is a great time to try social media advertising for your business. Create a custom audience and target posts to a niche audience for each coronavirus promotion your business may be offering.
- Create an online course. Everyone is in learning mode right now. What can you teach people? Put aside that you are the CEO of your company and think of yourself as a professor. Now is a great time to launch a course while people are quarantined at home. People are absorbing content at a higher rate than ever before.
- Optimize your existing content. Update any old content for keywords, engagement, and visibility. Review your old social media content. What worked? What didn’t? What lessons can you learn from the posts that did well land the posts that got zero likes? Now is a good time to pause and reflect so that you can make your content better. Also, consider updating your business page details on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Create a virtual social media event. This could be a webinar, Instagram Live or Facebook Live event. Update your audience on the steps your business has taken to protect your workers and the measures you are taking to ensure safety.
- Offer a trial. As much as you hate the word free, customers love it. Now is the time to offer a free trial or complimentary service. You may be able to convert these prospects into long-term customers several months from now. Don’t believe me? Subscription rates are soaring for companies that offered free trials for business software. Here is a comprehensive list of free coronavirus deals. Grab them while they last! Our social media marketing agency has taken advantage of many of these offers during the pandemic to up-level our skills, including the AHREFS blogging business course, the Zencastr podcast offer, Content Marketing Academy Keynote access, MarketMuse and so much more. We have also heavily invested in several B2B Saas programs to increase cutting-edge technology capabilities for clients.
- Facebook and Google ad grants. Facebook and Google have made grants available to a select number of small businesses. Unfortunately, the deals come with a catch: they are not available to many sole proprietors, and the Google ad credit offer is only available if you had an active ad account over the past 12 months. We hope they change these policies soon to make them available to every small business owner.
- Ask your audience how you can help. Stop trying to market and sell and instead think about what you can do for your audience and customers. How can you be of service? How can your brand genuinely help your audience or local community? Do you have a product that could be beneficial to frontline health care workers? If so, use social media as a way to get this product in the hands of frontline health care workers by donating it or offering it pro bono. One of the greatest challenges I have seen is that many small business owners want to donate extra PPE or products to health care workers in need but they don’t know who to donate it to or how to start the process. Use social media to help! For example, if you run a private medical practice and have extra PPE, consider posting: “Hi Friends! We have extra PPE and would like to donate it to a local hospital, but we need your help! Who should we connect with to make sure this gets in the right hands?” Ask your audience for help to connect the PPE to workers that need it.
You will be amazed at how the power of community can come together in a time of crisis on social media platforms. At the end of the day, we all want the same things. Health. Safety. Happiness. Align your goals with the goals of your audience to make that happen and you will see the true power of social media.
Social media marketing agency services
One of the primary benefits of social media is that it enables you to communicate with your audience and customers in real time. During a crisis, use this free technology to your advantage! As a New York social media marketing agency, we can help create a social media plan for your business. We also handle social media campaign creation and execution. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS 101 DURING A PANDEMIC
Coronavirus Media Chain of Command & Crisis Communications Plan
Why it is Critical to Communicate Crisis Communications PR strategies with your team when you hire a PR firm
Standard operating procedures (SOP’s) are critical in both internal and external communications with members of the media. One of the things that can make or break a successful PR campaign is the chain of command and PR workflow. PR SOP process creation in communication channels with external media is one of the most critical components of a crisis communications strategy, and yet, it is often the most overlooked.
As companies and medical practices learn to adapt to rapid response marketing in a global pandemic, it is important to create a repeatable process for employees to reference to create an approach for maximum impact during a time of crisis.
We have spent countless hours creating strategic management process guides for internal PR, Social Media Marketing and Media Relations for our clients to use as a framework.
Key Takeaway: A PR Campaign is only as good as its execution.
PR CRISIS COMMUNICATION EXAMPLES
For example, let’s say you are working with your PR agency to develop a strong crisis communications PR plan. The PR agency has drafted the release, created a custom media list, and distributed it to reporters. Success! A reporter calls one of your internal employees to ask about the release you just put out.
PROBLEM: Your employee is not aware of the press release details distributed to members of the media and refutes the statement made in a release. Another potential problem? The person managing the social media accounts for your dermatology practice is not the person who is in charge of your public relations and disseminates misinformation to members of the media. All of this could be avoided with a tactical PR Process plan.
PR Tip: Make sure your employees are not caught off guard if a customer inquires about redeeming a promotion they read about in the news. PR campaign execution is twofold: it includes your PR firm’s ability to deliver and your ability to clearly communicate how the media process works with your team internally. If your employees blow it because they weren’t properly informed about how the media works, don’t blame your PR firm.
How to Create an internal PR Communications Process
Before kicking off a crisis communications PR plan, make sure you have communicated the following with internal stakeholders:
- Send the release and media materials you are distributing to all internal employees before it hits the wire so they are aware of relevant details.
- Make sure employees know to direct all media requests to the publicist or agency of record.
- Share a campaign timeline of deliverables with all employees so they know when certain aspects of the campaign will kick off.
- Make sure your employees know they should not be speaking directly to the media. Direct all media requests to the PR agency you have hired.
If you have not hired a PR firm to handle crisis communications for your business, we urge you to strongly reconsider that decision. Many businesses are doing media interviews right now without any crisis communications consulting, and guess what, it shows. A former client did what they thought was a harmless media interview on their business during coronavirus. Unfortunately, it turned into a very negative piece on how their business is down 95 percent.
If we were still working with them, we would have counseled them not to do this media interview, because we would have known they were going to be pegged as a failing business facing the terrible economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Reporters always have an agenda and an idea of what they are going to cover. You either fall into that narrative, or they push you towards aligning to the narrative. Either way, it is important to figure out what the narrative is before you say yes to an interview. This takes the knowledge of someone who is skilled in media relations and working with journalists. There is absolutely no way a regular business owner would know what questions to ask to prevent a media crisis from occurring. This is why we always recommend never doing your own PR!
Not all press is good press. Anyone who says all PR is good PR clearly doesn’t know what they are talking about OR has never experienced bad publicity. The only reason we heard about this interview is because someone said, “did you see XYZ on the news? Their business is doing terrible!” That is not the kind of publicity you want to get right now. It is better to say nothing than to tell the world you are on the brink of bankruptcy!
Need help creating a crisis media plan or PR SOP? Contact us today. As crisis management consultants, we have counseled hundreds of clients over the years since our business launched in 2009. Benefit from our knowledge so your business does not have to make the same mistakes others have made before you! The best part? The first 30 minutes is on us, totally free! Book a crisis communications strategy call today.
Misinformation Epidemic: What advice do you have for people who are consuming information they see and hear about COVID-19 on social media platforms?
The media is not sensationalizing coronavirus. Reporters are putting their lives at risk by even reporting on this like I am today by being here for this segment and taking a car to do this which could have had a contaminated passenger in it. We need journalists to keep reporting and showing up to work to report on coronavirus, and that will only get harder as more people stop showing up to work and start reporting only from Skype. Doctors and reporters are reporting from locations where coronavirus has been confirmed. Think about that before saying how terrible the media is.
Amazon has taken down listings for third-party products claiming to help users avoid Coronavirus misinformation. One surgical face mask manufacturer was de-listed for making what Amazon called “unapproved medical marketing claims.” Who should you believe? Is the Coronavirus pandemic a symptom of our reliance on information gathered from social media?
As you have followed the global pandemic, how well or misinformed do you reckon someone for-whom Social Media equals “the news” would be as this vital story unfolds?
Social media companies are racing to combat the spread of misinformation on coronavirus COVID-19 and many have partnered with health authorities to crackdown on the misinformed epidemic.
Americans are so desensitized to a sensationalized media environment that they think this is just another bad snowstorm or something that the media has hyped up, therefore, they aren’t listening or paying attention. People will not be prepared for this. People are still flying when they shouldn’t be. People need to be more afraid than they are.
Did I ever envision I would be where I am now, or that any of us would be, no? Did you? Probably not. However, with great challenge comes great innovation. When you lock up a bunch of entrepreneurs in their homes during a pandemic, they will find new problems and ultimately create new solutions to issues we didn’t know we had. This will be the next industrial revolution and companies will be forced into digital transformation. Companies that fail to adapt to technological changes during this time will be left behind. Updating your software tech stack is a perfect example of this.
POST-PANDEMIC MARKETING LESSONS ON DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION:
As a result of digital transformation brought about during the pandemic, we have seen a greater shift from earned to owned media.
Pre-pandemic, clients were interested in figuring out how to leverage earned media for increased media exposure.
When newsrooms temporarily stopped having guests in person and shifted to remote interviews, executives invested in creating their own at home studio.
In addition to a monthly retainer for PR services, the new investment includes the following:
- Studio lighting
- DSLR Camera
- Green screen
- Software + new tech stack
After executives got used to doing interviews from home, it was hard to go back to the way things were. Many executives realized how much time they saved in the work day from doing media interviews at home.
Additionally, more people turned to podcasting and social audio and wanted greater control over the content they produced vs. short form segments.
Social audio has struggled with the stickiness factor, and once the world opened up again, it lost some of its appeal.
Neither social audio or podcasting are a true replacement for cable news or traditional media interview opportunities in terms of maximum reach and audience size.
Not every podcaster will have the reach of Joe Rogan, and it is important to take that into consideration when evaluating and creating your annual marketing plan and PR goals.
During the pandemic, newsrooms started to pull from in-house contributors and talent. This meant less openings for new guests and undiscovered on-air talent. Therefore, the talent started taking matters into their own hands, and producing their own short form video content on TikTok.
The role of the PR firm has changed considerably from helping clients secure earned media to also helping clients create owned media assets.
PR practitioners can help craft this narrative, and when clients own the output, they can visibly see the results.
If a PR firm pitches you and it doesn’t result in a placement, the value of the content in the pitch is sometimes not recognized.
The paradigm has shifted from pitching journalists to pitching clients on editorial topics they can use and leverage for their own assets- and that way they own the outcome of the time it takes to create said assets, vs. the traditional PR approach of let’s hope someone bites.
The pandemic changed marketing forever. If you are a CMO who successfully navigated the crisis, congratulations.
The last two years have brought a slew of changes to PR and Marketing including crypto, the metaverse, NFTs for brand marketing, Social Audio, live podcasting platforms, decentralized search, AI writing tools, machine learning, and AI image generation tools.
What I have learned is that it is never a waste of time to engage in experimental technologies.
Even if the platform dies, the relationships built along the way do not can lead to positive business outcomes that often take time to develop.
Some founders may see experimental PR approaches as a waste of time with unproven ROI, but I believe these approaches are critical for visibility and early adopter advantage.
Riding the early wave of these new changes is what separates the traditional practitioner from a digital PR practitioner.
To remain competitive in the digital media landscape, you have to constantly be on the lookout for new ways to secure attention and visibility. The only way that works is if the person on the other end of the equation recognizes the value in that methodology.
Alignment on metrics, methodology, and how you practice PR is critical. I can’t think of a greater line in the sand for PR practitioners than the pandemic. There are those who continue to do one thing really well (tv booking, guest booking, podcast booking) etc. And there are others who have learned a myriad of skills in the SEO/AI/content world to combine social media marketing and Public relations tactics together.
One approach is not better than the other.
The best approach is the right approach for your business.
CORONAVIRUS SOCIAL MEDIA RESOURCES
Social Media Toolkit
coronavirus social media toolkit to help localize efforts in responding to COVID-19.
Canva Awareness Templates
Canva created these social media templates for businesses to stop the spread of coronavirus. You can download the coronavirus graphic templates here.
SHOP our tech stack here:
It is tempting to feel that you “made it” when you are mentioned in national press coverage or the spotlight is on you. But as we have seen with the pandemic, all of that can quickly go away when newsrooms shut down, so you must constantly evolve, innovate and adapt.
CORONAVIRUS SOCIAL MEDIA MISINFORMATION: PODCAST EPISODE
PUBLIC RELATIONS CONSULTING FOR DOCTORS AND BUSINESSES
Need help evolving your digital marketing strategy in a post-pandemic world? Coronavirus dominated the media cycle. Need help breaking through the clutter to get your story heard? Ruby Media Group specializes in crisis communications, media relations, and public relations. Would you like public relations tips for your business on how to adapt your marketing and PR strategy in the wake of coronavirus? We are offering coronavirus public relations strategic advice for doctors and healthcare professionals on the frontline. Contact us today for a consultation.
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