5 Strategies PR Pros Can Implement During Global Uncertainty
By: Catherine Bormann
Let’s be honest, being a PR professional the last two years has been challenging. I liken it to walking a tightrope during a raging storm and each time we finally make it safely across we are met with a new storm and a skinnier rope. 2022 was supposed to be our new beginning. With the threat of Omicron decreasing, we were all ready to breathe a cautious sigh of relief, rejoicing that we made it across another tightrope. But 2022 has decided to up the ante and we are facing the skinniest tightrope walk yet; navigating how to communicate during a new war.
During times of great uncertainty social media has provided connection and real-time access to participate in social and political movements. Not surprisingly, Pew Research Center found that 48 percent of US adults get their news from social media “often” or “sometimes”. But what is surprising, is that eight in ten Americans say social media is effective for creating a social message and nearly 77 percent say social media is a powerful tool for building sustained social change. With the news cycle shifting to 24/7 coverage of the Ukraine invasion, Americans are turning to social media to join the conversation. So, what does this mean for brands?
While the invasion is certainly dominating headline news, most American companies continue to operate business as usual – including on social media. With Americans glued to their phones and the news cycle changing by the second, how can PR professionals confidently counsel their brands to communicate with their customers?
We pulled together 5 strategies you can implement during times of global, national or regional unrest.
- Stick to your brand values: It’s never more important to act in accordance with your brand values and align with your core constituents than during a crisis. Sometimes this means taking the lead from your customers. Are they posting in support of a cause, people or action? If not, this may be a time to remain quiet. Regardless, revisit your values first, then create a plan.
- Be authentic and sustainable: If you post on social media make sure your content is authentic to your brand and will age well. The situation in Ukraine will have long-term implications, well beyond any social media trends. Consumers have grown weary of cause-of-the-moment messages from brands and are instead looking for sustained, impactful action. Right now may be a good time to stop or closely monitor scheduled social posts to avoid posting insensitive content at the wrong time.
- Shift your pitching efforts: The media are operating on little to no sleep and many reporters have been reassigned to cover current events. How can you help reporters right now? First check on their social media handles for any guidance they are providing. Monday, Executive Wine Editor at Food & Wine Magazine, Ray Isle tweeted “Kind of revolting to get tone-deaf PR pitches…delete, delete, delete.” Other reporters are business as usual. Keep pitches short, relevant and socially sensitive. If your brand offers a service or product that helps people during times of distress, pitch your heart out. If that does not describe your brand’s offering, check in with your media contacts to see how they are holding up and if they are accepting evergreen pitches.
- Share how you are helping your employees: If your company has not addressed how you are helping your employees through these tumultuous times, this is your reminder to gather internally and create a plan as soon as possible. In a competitive labor market, a genuine approach to employee wellbeing can help recruiting and retention efforts and shine a bright light on your brand’s values. Learn more about how to deploy the power of PR amid the great resignation, here.
- Be prepared: Start to plan ahead – but only a short distance. We’ve been advocating for brands reevaluating their PR plan weekly, monthly and quarterly since Spring 2020 – this advice holds true now. If you are creating a new campaign, make sure you include a Plan A, B, and C. Flexibility and resilience are the name of the game.
If you need help creating a sustainable plan during this time of great uncertainty– call us. We’re here to help.