What a year 2020 was! We relaunched Engage PR last year amid the pandemic, a move some may have thought was crazy, but one that we will celebrate this Thursday, April 1st. So, what did this past year teach us? Many things about the importance of communication, our need to connect, even virtually, and the importance of telling a more human story. We look forward to a future with continued success for Engage PR and our clients.
Relaunching a PR agency at the start of a pandemic was no easy task—with everyone working from home, loads of unpredictability, the cancellation of in-person events and trade shows, and major layoffs happening across the globe—it was without a doubt one of the riskiest moves I’ve made professionally. However, the timing was right because the pandemic exposed clients’ needs to adapt their approach to communications to meet an ever-changing landscape.
Lessons Learned and Takeaways from Year One:
- You don’t need a fancy office to do great PR. This year has shown more than ever it is about the message and the intent to connect and not the surroundings we work or even meet in.
- We already knew how to work remotely. Our bi-coastal team was already connecting with clients in different regions and time zones remotely. With trade show events canceled, the importance of connecting with reporters and industry analysts was amplified. Not only to check in on how the pandemic changed their coverage focus but also to check in on a personal level about how the pandemic was affecting them. If there was ever a crossover between personal and professional, it was this past year, and the chance to connect on a personal level made it more important to show empathy and be conscious of how the pandemic was affecting everyone differently.
Moving Into Year Two:
- Building thought leadership
- Quickly throwing up a blog post on your website might have worked in the past but is no longer sufficient. Audiences are looking for more. educational content, compelling points of view, authentic stories, visuals, and video content. We continue to revolve our tactics to reflect a changing business landscape. Prioritizing owned media and developing blogs that cover emerging industry trends, customer success stories and provocative viewpoints. The development and promotion of podcasts, video, visuals, authentic stories, and fresh ways to engage target audiences is always top of mind.
- Engaging social media
- Over the past decade, social media has become one of the best ways to stay at the forefront of people’s minds. It is vital to utilize these platforms in creative ways so that your company doesn’t blend into the background. Ways to make an impactful and meaningful impression include:
- Research and plan posts with thoughtful, educational content and post regularly.
- Look at groups within social media platforms, especially with LinkedIn, that your audience is already engaging in and insert yourself into the right discussion. Be sure to keep content educational and not promotional. Take the time to engage and learn from these groups as well.
- Brainstorm new ideas and memorable ways to push the envelope and stand out in a crowded landscape. But you shouldn’t feel like you need to constantly reinvent the wheel. If there are already successes out there build from good engagement. Research recent trends and find ways to integrate into your own posts.
- Make sure you have a strong brand presence in social media with fresh messaging, imagery and recent positive customer or partner feedback to help shape the perception of those researching your company.
- Reputation management
- With the public relying on online sources to keep up to date on news, it is more critical than ever to listen and, if necessary, respond to what others are saying online. It has never been easier or more cost-effective for communicators to monitor social media in real-time using tools like Sprout Social, Hootsuite or HubSpot. Monitoring supported by a strong reactive strategy and process for emerging issues along with paid social ads can ensure your messages are seen by the right audiences.
- Focus on third-party validation
- In today’s ever-shrinking media landscape, it is vital to nurture relationships with reporters and provide them with tools to make their jobs easier. Checking in with reporters and providing them with resources that help them do their jobs is a good start. Providing fresh data (easily obtained through an industry survey) helps substantiate trends that continue to set expectations of stakeholders.
- Increasingly, paid media and sponsored content is finding its place and gaining audience trust. Programs like Forbes Councils present a compelling model for brands to quickly gain access to broader audiences and establish third-party validation.
Engage PR Pride
At Engage PR we are proud of the work we have completed to support clients and look forward to continuing this path of success. 2020 provided organizations an opportunity to rethink their approach to strategic communications, and we welcome the chance to broaden the scope and reach of PR and drive results more effectively.