Ramping Up PR During a Crisis
Recent world events have resulted in companies having to make painful staff and operational cost reductions. Many of these businesses will face challenges for months to come, with many unable to keep their doors open. Through any crisis–including a global pandemic, recession, or both– public relations can become the most critical function. Why? PR lets your customers and target prospects know that you are still standing. Communicating and being active sends a message that you are in business during a crisis. PR is one of the most cost-effective and resourceful ways to keep your name in front of your customers. The third-party endorsement that PR creates resonates with your customers now and long after the crisis has passed.
Executives who think past the crisis and want to sustain their long-term success will leverage PR to communicate with current and prospective customers and other key stakeholders. Some companies decide to retreat and cut PR for cost-saving measures. However, the perfect time to go on the offensive with your PR efforts is now. PR allows you to amplify your product or service, showcase your executive’s perspective and provides a more personal/intimate view of your executives and company.
Here are five ways to make the most of your PR programs and strategies when times are tough:
1. Strengthen trust through messaging
Investing in PR now ensures that your customers and influencers see your company as a financially secure entity and a safe bet for the long-term. As part of your PR program now, make sure your messaging is authentic and transparent to resonate with your target audience. How you talk about your company or service should demonstrate a long-term commitment to your audience, even if your customers’ budgets are tight today. Investing in PR, having clear messaging, and continuously finding ways to communicate with your target audience will go a long way. Establishing a foundation of trust during tough times will keep your company or service top of mind once recovery happens.
2. Build thought leadership/share of voice
Communicate your story and point of view when others —maybe even your competitors — are not. It’s important to remember that bad times don’t last forever, and there will be a day when we get past the pandemic, and the economy recovers. Your company may be doing okay financially but might have limited news. A slower news cycle is the perfect opportunity to expand on your company’s thought leadership campaign through a contributed article program or executive interview. The right PR partner will look at the assets you have, your unique perspective, and will leverage that plus their relationships with the right media to gain you coverage between news cycles. This is not an easy process but will have an impact now and well into the future.
3. Get more done with less money and time
It sounds counter-intuitive, but investing in PR now allows your company to try different types of approaches of brand journalism i.e., creating stories and other content that emphasizes your company’s value from customers, industry analysts, and more. Increasing PR activity now — whether you’re doing this through content development or using traditional media or social media, provides greater understanding of your customers’ needs, and can potentially provide a stronger position against your competition.
4. Leverage blogs and promote via your social media channels
Posting, updating, and responding to social media is an optimal way to develop relationships with the public. Most tech companies now have a company blog. If not, you should add one to your company website. Company blogs inform or alert your audience and are a great platform to share your thoughts about relevant topics that impact your customers. Actively engage with your audience through your Twitter and LinkedIn platforms. Ask your audience questions to engage.
5. Listen and learn about your audience
Engaging in PR now (and always) also means listing and learning from your audience. Discover what your target prospects are doing now and into the new year. Tailor your efforts to them. What are their needs? Industry analysts are a resource to leverage more now. Different industry analyst firms bring a different perspective. Most of these analysts talk directly with your customers and have insight that will help your business. Some are looking at market share and more significant market drivers. Talking to a diverse set of analysts can help you learn and adjust your approach so that you’re primed for recovery.
This is also a good time to review and see who has been engaging with your brand. Back-end analytics, including summaries of web traffic activity, can provide insights about your audience and tell a different story than you may have known six months ago. The same is true for social media. Your direct and indirect audience, media, analysts and customers are also evolving and constantly changing. The right PR partner can help you decide to stay the course, pivot, or make minor adjustments based on the data.
Summary: invest in PR now for long-term success
PR is an investment for the long term. Tech companies that have been around for the long run have seen positive returns on this investment. These companies often see a return on investment through customer loyalty, market position, sales and brand reputation. While it might be tempting to cut PR to save a few dollars, the momentum will be lost, and your competitor will be ready to step in to take your place. PR is also one of your most essential tools to stay in touch with your customers and prospects. Don’t follow others who may be cutting their PR efforts. During a crisis is the time when the public needs to hear from you the most. Cost-effective, efficient, and powerful, PR can be your ticket to standing out from the crowd.