Spring 2020 has been an unprecedented time for business. When lockdown kicked in, the UK’s commercial landscape changed, almost literally overnight. And while, in theory, there was arguably time to prepare, as we watched Covid-19 travel here from China, when there has been no comparable scenario in living memory, how do you even start preparing your business for a pandemic? While for some, this has spelled enormous potential, for others there will be no recovery. But what if your business is somewhere in the middle of those two extremes? For millions of SMEs, the question is no longer, ‘how can we survive the pandemic?’ but rather, ‘how can we prepare our business for when all of this is over?’ And one of the most crucial aspects could be PR.
4 Tips for Successful Post-Pandemic PR
Be ready to reintegrate physical with digital
There’s been a lot of talk in the last few weeks about how digital is becoming the ‘new normal’. And it’s true. It has been for a number of years now. That’s why gaining a ‘web presence’, SEO and all the other assorted biz, has become such a massive priority for even the smallest of businesses. And it’s abundantly clear, that those SMEs with an existing strong digital structure have weathered the pandemic far more successfully than those without. However, something else has emerged since lockdown began – consumers enjoy physical contact.
The personal touch remains imperative in most business frameworks. People want to go out and visit those bricks and mortar businesses. Not just that excellent little café with the amazing cinnamon rolls, but practically every business they’ve been deprived of since March 23rd. And yeah, digital done well is really convenient. And there are times when your customers will want only that. But buyer behaviour will not have irreversibly changed. So, as you plan ahead, don’t forget to factor in brand experience, product placement, and all the other PR ploys you’re used to employing.
For many, the first instinct following lockdown was to wind their neck IN. It’s been such a sensitive time. And aside from the fact there’s been a simply huge amount of housekeeping to manage, there has been significant fear of doing/saying the wrong thing. And the knock-on effect this may have on brand image going forward. While this is understandable, it’s a bit of a PR blunder.
At a time when most people are craving a slice of normality, hearing from a favourite brand has never been more welcome. Your customers want to hear from you. Now. And in reopening the lines of communication you can start paving the way to your company’s recovery. The key is to find the right tone. So, keep it sincere and provide a personal touch. Find a way for your service or brand to offer genuine help to your audience. And if you can’t do that right now just keep your messaging relevant.
Don’t cut your marketing costs
Naturally small business owners are thinking about where they can cut costs and reducing marketing overheads might well be the top of your non necessity lists, however, it’s important to consider how much of a negative impact it will have on your brand equity. Building your brand’s presence takes time and consistency and you don’t want to throw away your previous efforts and start all over again once the storm passes. This could even result in investing more to get your business engagement back to where it once was.
Keeping your brand seen now will help you on your road to recovery later.
Businesses have come under a lot of scrutiny during the pandemic. Not just for their service, but their working practices, the way they treat their team members, and their social responsibility. At this point, you should no longer be putting out fires, you’ll have slipped into a new routine and if your business has been able to remain operational, you’ll no longer be spending every day trying to find new solutions. This means that you have time to consider your everyday practices. How your company operates – and how it is perceived. This is an area that requires agility. For some, it won’t be sensible to return to the status quo. Use this time to generate the PR you need to reposition your brand – in terms of environmental issues, social responsibility and authenticity.
At the moment, all is relatively calm. There’s not much anyone can do other than to continue what they’re already doing, until the government greenlights the move away from lockdown. But that makes now a really good time to think about your brand. What do you want to be known for? How do you want to present yourself? Use this time to define your company and its values. And prepare yourself – and your PR strategy – for the future new normal.