Unless your brand can make a meaningful contribution to the conversation on the crisis in some way, you risk adding to the noise, at best. The pandemic has completely taken over the media landscape and, while you can continue to outreach some campaigns, you might still find you have extra time on your hands. Added to that are reduced resource and budgets.
So what can you do to be productive, keep morale up and cut external costs? Read on for our tips on short-term and long-term strategies for digital PR during coronavirus.
Instead of focussing on everything, you need some immediate priorities. What do you need to get done this week, and what can be left until your team is fully functioning? By doing this, you will minimise stress and start to be productive. Think small steps, instead of big.
You will need to adjust your short-term goals as well. Consumers are spending a lot of time online; 45% of consumers are on social apps more during coronavirus, according to a study by Global Web Index. Links would usually be the ultimate goal for a digital PR campaign but right now engagement should be.
If a campaign isn’t doing well in the media, adjust it to fit social channels instead. There can be some real mutual benefit by maintaining brand-consumer interaction, as long as it’s productive and appropriate. Once consumers start to spend again, you can revert to links.
Digital PR is integral to maintaining both a brand’s reputation and SEO health. Simply doing without links, coverage and mentions isn’t really an option. So the cornerstone of your long-term strategy should be readiness. Even if you can’t outreach now, make sure your team is ready to promote digital campaigns once a return to some kind of normalcy looks likely.
It’s also a good idea to try and understand how much the coronavirus crisis might reshape consumer behaviours.
While there’s no way for anyone to predict the future of digital, we can prepare for different scenarios — how might an easing of lockdown restrictions in late summer compared with early autumn change your campaign planning, for example?
Cue up campaigns
This is the best time to do your research and plan. Brainstorm with your team to come up with campaign ideas to cover a range of different outcomes, dates, moods and news cycles. You will then have a bank of ideas ready to go as soon as it’s feasible.
Audit your competitors
Research competitors too. It’s easy to produce basic share of voice reports. Look at competitors online coverage and what they are talking about to understand how you can differentiate from them. You can consider the number and quality of links, topics and spokespeople in your research and match it with basic SEO metrics— keyword rankings for example.
Tools and resources
Just want a starting point? There’s lots of support out there for digital PR professionals, with brands, tools and learning providers offering free resources. Here are some of the best that can help you put your strategies into practice:
- Roxhill, a media database, is offering free trials
- Social listening tool Brandwatch has a Covid-19 resource centre
- Cision has been holding webinars for PR experts and uploading them to its website
- If you want to learn more about SEO, Moz is offering its courses for free until end of May
- Mindmup is a free online brainstorming tool you can use while working from home
More people are online right now. Think more about engagement than links for the moment, but when the time is right you’ll be able to refocus your goals. Refresh and adjust strategies so that you are prepared for the surge once there’s scope for consumers to engage with your brand and for you to engage with the media more normally. But, most importantly, stay safe and stay positive.
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