5 tips to using PR to come out of Covid stronger than ever before

By Amy Smith | 26 Aug 2020 View comments

Although Covid-19 has tested our resilience, it has also forced us to innovate and adapt in ways we never thought possible. It has highlighted the importance of managing risk and communicating positively in periods of change.

Because these ‘unprecedented times’ seem set on continuing to throw curveballs our way, here are our top five tips to effectively manage change and come out stronger than ever before.

1. Develop a crisis communications plan and ensure your team knows it inside and out

Crisis communication plans are essential to have stashed away for those unforeseeable events, but it is equally as important to make sure these documents don’t just sit in a desk drawer for a rainy day. A crisis often unfolds in minutes, not days, so the way you and your team respond and react in face of a crisis will be vital to overcoming it quickly and effectively.

These plans should function as a guideline that lays out important first response steps, how to communicate with the public and how to reduce the risk of the issue happening again. Everyone in your business should be well versed in what to do in the face of a crisis situation.

2. Tune out commentary and focus on official sources of truth

When something does go wrong it’s very easy to get overwhelmed trying to keep up with the crisis, and if the media, social media or other brands are involved, there can quickly be many voices on the issue.

While it’s important to keep up with what’s being discussed, it’s also important to focus on official sources of truth as opposed to idle commentary. Managing a crisis gets busy and moves at an impossible pace, so making sure all your information is up to date and accurate goes a long way in how effectively you’re able to manage the situation.

3. Identify what you can do to make your customers feel safe and meet their changing needs, then talk about it

We’re all used to the phrase the ‘new normal’ these days, and it is important customers see that implemented in your response to help them feel safe. As lockdown restrictions eased we simultaneously saw businesses implement new practices to reflect the times we were living in, and businesses go back to normal- often copping hefty fines and losing patrons.

Banjo’s Bakery launched a Mother’s Day picnic box in line with easing restrictions allowing picnics, as well as ramping up their ‘click and collect’ and Uber Eats offering to give customers alternative ways to enjoy Banjo’s goods during lockdown.

We saw Snap Fitness adapting to gym closures by filming in-house workout guides and videos for its members to use at home and offering franchisees support to conduct workouts and training sessions via Zoom rather than in person.

These small changes to the franchises’ offering helped to keep customers engaged even though they couldn’t visit an outlet and helped franchisees to continue receiving income in tough times.

The stories of innovation also helped to drive positive publicity for the brands and their management of the crisis, helping to build a strong reputation.

4. Put your team members first

Keeping employees engaged and motivated during any crisis is tough, but the pandemic has levelled up the need for employers to put their people first. The age-old adage ‘happy staff create happy customers’ has never been truer, so it’s vital to have your team members highly engaged, involved and advocating for your business.

Make sure you keep your team front of mind when developing any communications strategies, keep them well-informed about how your business is adapting to the changing environment and use their expertise to brainstorm better ways support your customers through these challenging times.

5. Share your positive stories

With a global crisis like Covid-19, it’s hard to avoid getting wrapped up in the doom and gloom. Media outlets are well aware of this, so it’s actually a great time to be sharing good news stories that can cut through the negativity and bring people some joy.

That’s why our final tip is to keep sharing your positive stories, even in a tough climate. Whether it is how you’re adapting to meet the needs of your customers or how you’re supporting the local community, get the word out there and give customers (and yourselves!) something to smile about.

P4 Group is a marketing and communications agency with more than 25 years of expertise in the Australian market. The team has established a franchise specialist team and is offering a range of PR, marketing and digital support for franchise brands. 

Pictured above: Sarah Broad, GM; Amy Smith, account director; Lauren Ludik, digital director.