COVID-19: Now’s the Time to Commit a PR Faux Pas

Now’s the Time to Commit a PR Faux Pas
Even with a decade of experience in crisis communications, I could not have predicted the way this global pandemic would affect not only our communities, but also the way we communicate with each other in such a short time.
There is no public relations playbook for an event of this magnitude. We are seeing companies make up crisis communications plans on the fly - navigating uncharted waters while working to keep their businesses afloat. Now is the time to throw out traditional approaches. Committing “PR faux pas” may be the key to helping communicators better reach their audiences.
Don’t Hold Back
Right now, there is no level of outreach or transparency that isn’t appropriate. Share information widely and often. What started with emails about updated sanitation procedures has advanced to distributions about how companies are accommodating the needs of customers, all while adhering to changing mandates.
Get Creative
Now is the time for big ideas. From build-your-own cocktail kits and take-and-bake menus, to virtual museum tours and zoom happy hours, companies are getting creative on how they serve their clients under new and evolving constraints. No idea is too bold. Try not to see new mandates as hurdles but rather challenges to expand offerings or bring products to consumers in new ways.
Post, Post, Post!
When it comes to social media, there are certain dos and don’ts. Traditionally, social media posts would be limited to specific cadences, and only at peak audience times. Right now, people are glued to their devices and are consuming more information, more rapidly than ever. Feel free to post as frequently as information becomes available.
Put YOUR People First
A traditional public relations approach would always put the customer first. In the wake of this pandemic, not addressing how you are keeping your employees and staff members safe is a glaring omission. It doesn’t matter who you are communicating to, they are going to want to know how you are protecting your people – specifically how you are prioritizing their safety and job security.
The downside to all of this is there is no playbook for a global event of this magnitude. But the upside is – there is no playbook for a global event of this magnitude. We are writing it as we go and what we do now will change the course of crisis communications forever.
Rachel Albritton
Founder, Paperboy Public Relations

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