While social distancing feels a bit more normal these days, it’s hard to imagine a return to “business as usual.” But as communicators, we’ve always had to be nimble, flexible and adaptable, and that’s even more important today.
If you haven’t already, ask yourself: “Does my brand fit into the conversation?” If you aren’t sure, these five questions will help you decide whether to pitch your brand—and spokespeople—during the pandemic. Consumers are being inundated with content, so if you’re going to be part of the conversation, you need to make it count. (And be thoughtful along the way!)
If your brand can offer relevant advice, now’s the time to identify it and get it in front of those who need it. Start by identifying a spokesperson to represent your organization the way you want—someone who’s confident and likeable on camera, and is a naturally strong communicator.
Then, notify the right media of your availability, expertise and contact information. It helps if you have an established media relationship—they’ll be more likely to read your pitch. Then it’s time to send. Email is the best platform, and if they want to interview you, take full advantage: This is your time to shine. If you don’t get any interest, it’s OK to follow up once. If you still don’t hear anything, share on your social platforms.
Forcing your news into circulation right now can leave a bad impression and hurt your reputation. We repeat: Don’t force it. People are naturally consuming trending content as a much-needed relief from COVID-19 updates. If your brand can thoughtfully contribute, there might be room for you in niche areas.
We’ve seen brands step up and support their communities in some incredible ways. The best strategy is to understand your community’s needs and determine what you can bring to the table. Your efforts should stem from a genuine desire to help, not to earn coverage or recognition. If you create genuinely useful and interesting campaigns, your followers will remember. How can your resources help? Now is your time to step up! If you get recognition, that’s an added bonus. What really matters is that you made a difference.
Press conferences are not the norm right now. While officials are holding updates daily, we aren’t seeing them from brands the way we did pre-pandemic. Instead, consider virtual events to share big news. Set yourself up for success by making sure you look and sound confident and that your message is on point. Here are a few reminders:
• Have a secure, fast and strong internet connection.
• Your computer mic and camera should do the job, but if you’re doing virtual events/interviews often, you might want to invest in an external mic, headset and camera.
• Host a test call to be sure your setup is working well.
• Don’t host an event between 11am and 1pm. This is when officials, like Gov. Cuomo, often host theirs.
• Read our post for tips on preparing for video interviews.
How else can you make your media relations effort a home run? By helping the media tell stories that help their viewers. You’ll come out of this crisis with stronger relationships and amazing brand coverage, and that’s a win-win! Here are some pointers:
• Do your research. Know and avoid times when officials are hosting their updates.
• Make it easy. Send your virtual invitation with all necessary information (topic, spokesperson, Zoom link/ID, time, etc.).
• Keep it organized. Identify an emcee to facilitate the conversation, call on the media for questions and share helpful reminders like muting your mic.
• Be creative. It doesn’t always have to be a talking head. Pitch opportunities to join/record video chats that show virtual tours/walkthroughs of a space, meetings, etc.
• Send a recap. Follow up with still photos, b-roll and additional information for those who couldn’t attend.
• Say thanks! It can go a long way.
If showcasing your brand right now is natural, valuable, relevant and timely, these pointers will help you offer important and helpful content. When in doubt, go back to your brand: Who are we? What’s our mission? How are we helping? What conversations are trending? And how can we share news that people will care about?
If there’s a natural connection between what’s happening in our world and what your brand is doing, go ahead and tap into public relations. And remember, the relationships you build today will stick with you when the pandemic is behind us.
Public Relations Supervisor Ryann Guglielmo and Public Relations Assistant Alyssa Whitley share the same passion for smart and effective communications through strong relationships. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.