The PR rules of engagement for navigating COVID-19

Published by Nicolé Moor  on 23rd June 2020

The PR rules of engagement for navigating COVID-19

With lockdown measures easing and businesses beginning to rebuild, PR practitioners are already changing brand messaging, supporting clients through cost effective means and tailoring processes to navigate these uncharted waters. It is clear this pandemic has shifted the PR rules of engagement to become more accommodating and efficient. PB’s Client Account Lead, Nicole, explores the importance of these rules, and shares what PRs should have front of mind when producing stories and messaging.  


Meaningful over opportunistic

There is an increased sense of community that has developed during this pandemic, which in turn has changed the way audiences react to PR. The need for that big PR stunt isn’t necessary, what is more important is a focus on emotive stories. Community engagement, shining a light on local heroes, treating loyal customers with compassion and making positive differences in people’s lives, is the key to unlocking increased customer loyalty, engagement and positive brand awareness.  

In a recent article from the Nationalthe words ‘Be responsibleBe empathetic. Be flexible’ stuck in mind as they could not be more apt. No matter the client’s sector or product, it is important for PRs to question each and use them to ensure brand messaging is effective and meaningful: 

Be responsible

  • Do we have a social purpose and how strong is it? 
  • Are we being or could we be more responsible? 

Be empathetic

  • Are we being sympathetic to how our audience is feeling?  
  • Will our offering connect with them on an emotional level? 

Be flexible

  • Is our offering flexible?  
  • Are we doing all we can to support our customers? 


Digital is more important now than ever

Whilst traditional PR still has a leg to stand on, the increased importance of digital PR has become second to none. The need for quick, factual and formative messaging allows brands to effectively communicate their key messages with stakeholders, employees and audiences in a way that has not been needed before.   

A huge benefit of digital PR is its convenience to provide audiences with fast and effective messaging delivered on the right channels. It also allows us to develop a direct relationship and is a tangible way to measure success. Digital PR also allows for successful continuous communications which has played a huge role during COVID-19. Just take a look at the Government’s daily coronavirus briefings, they are broadcasted across the digital universe allowing all to access.  


The reason why ROI is on everyone’s lips 

Now more than ever businesses are looking for cost effective solutions which generate coverage, brand awareness and engagement, and ultimately provides a proven return of investment. I recently read an article on PR Week, which shared that brands are more demanding, their budgets have taken a hit and there is a greater need for tangible results.   

Whilst this has always been a big focus for PRs, we have all seen first-hand the increased demand for ROI during COVID-19. This is why PR practitioners are evolving their processes with functions more commonly associated with digital agencies, including amplification and SEO, to increase the service offering. I personally see this as a great, yet challenging, positive. We all want to prove ourselves and in PR we’ve become used to this, clients want to see a bang for their buck… that has always been the case and no more so than now.