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In this blog post, Scott Murcott, Digital Copywriter at Huble Digital, touches on why now is the time to salvage upcoming PR campaigns, instead of shelving them, and to start adapting your messaging to suit a new COVID-19 climate.

Right now, trying to predict what lies ahead is like hitting ‘send’ on your brand communications while blindfolded; there are just too many variables as the world adapts to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Businesses have had to cut budgets, retrench employees and pivot away from fundamental processes. Question is, how can they rebuild when the economy, society in general, and factors such as travel are still so uncertain? This applies to public relations and brand communications, where many campaigns have been put on ice or scrapped altogether because sentiment is tough to gauge.

But 2021 is just around the corner, and whether we’re ready for it or not, we need to plan accordingly.

Empathy instead of exploitation

As many countries emerge from their first wave of infections, nerves are frayed and emotions high. These feelings of uncertainty are unlikely to change in 2021.

Times like these demand messaging that’s sensitive, empathetic and very carefully worded. Certain sales and marketing words have new connotations, such as ‘infectious’ or ‘killer’. For now, at least, it’s best to say goodbye to phrases like ‘Killer Promotion’ and ‘A Contagious Dance Beat’. 

For the foreseeable future, there is safety in sensitivity. A sentiment that IKEA’s ‘Make Home Count’ video shares by encouraging viewers to make ‘your home the place you love the most’ during the lockdown. 

Adapt upcoming PR campaigns where you can

Part of the job is keeping abreast of current affairs to make sure that upcoming campaigns don’t land the business in hot water. Because of this, PR professionals are no strangers to adapting existing material to suit the prevailing trends and sentiments.

The COVID-19 pandemic is no different. Experts expect the virus will still be with us in 2021, so if you can salvage upcoming campaigns instead of shelving them, now would be a good time to start adapting the messaging.

Nike’s recent #playinside and #playfortheworld encouraged athletes to share how they were keeping active at home during lockdowns across the globe. Not only did this campaign align with Nike’s brand identity, it also provided inspiration and hope while encouraging people to stay at home. It really is that good:

 

Sometimes adaptation can be as simple as changing or adding a word, while other campaigns may require design tweaks or substantial reworks. Point is, it’s wise to look at what you have before starting from scratch.

Looking for more inspiration? These PR campaigns are sure to turn your creative lightbulb on.

Promote thought leadership

Content with the sole intention of capitalising on uncertainty has been a huge problem during the pandemic. Now more than ever, people are looking for trustworthy, authoritative content that offers genuine value and points at the way forward. These thought leadership pieces can take the form of brand-relevant eBooks and white papers, or well-researched, topical blog posts and articles.

Your customers are probably also wondering what your plans are for the future and how you intend to do your part as recovery efforts continue. Why not draft an earnest ‘State of Play’ letter from your CEO that answers these questions and charts the way forward for both business and client? This is a simple strategy to create a personal connection with your customers, bringing them into the business fold in a way that seems natural.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson wrote an open letter to his employees. His honest piece is a great example of leadership and understanding to ‘steer the ship’ during uncertain times:

“During times of adversity, values are tested. I remain inspired by your resilience and am optimistic that together we can overcome this challenge. Words cannot capture the immense pride and gratitude I have for you, my Starbucks partners, as you demonstrate support for one another, your customers and the thousands of communities we serve. During this overwhelming and difficult time, you have shown up and stayed true to the Mission and Values we stand for, and I am forever grateful.”

You can read his open letter in full here.

Rise above uncertainty with a professional partner

We are all in uncharted territory and many of the tried-and-trusted methods of brand communication are no longer appropriate for current times. There’s a fine line between sensitivity and trying to generate the sales needed to keep a business afloat, but we’d like to help you walk it.

Throughout the pandemic, the public relations specialists at Huble Digital have kept a close eye on what’s worked and what hasn’t. This puts us in the unique position of being able to offer some stability in turbulent times. We’ll help you generate the right kind of press, positioning your stakeholders and brand as a leading voice in your industry so that you retain the position as a reliable, trustworthy source of information.

If you’re ready to start planning your PR for 2021, get in touch with a Huble Digital consultant today, or if you're looking for further material before jumping in, check out this 30 minute webinar Dave and Jon from our PR team ran at our Grow with Inbound event in September, for free, on adapting your comms in today's "new normal".

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