Media relations during a pandemic? “Respectfully, yes”

March 26th. As a PR and communications agency, a large part of our services include helping our customers achieving editorial visibility that accurately reflects the value that our clients provide. This work is somewhat different today compared to only a couple of months back, before the Corona outbreak.   

Many of our customers’ planned activities, such as product launches, media events, ready-to-go opinion pieces, press releases, interview opportunities etc. are either canceled or postponed to a new date later on. No one knows when they will take place, given the situation. Inviting journalists to attend some of our customers’ future events is for example not an easy task at the moment.

Some clients are hesitant of distributing and pitching customer news stories and bylines that are not Corona related to the media these days, thinking that the media would get annoyed by them, considering that people today have far more important things to talk about and read about. We were contacted by some journalists, who asked us if we had any content or interview opportunities for them, preferably not Corona-related. We saw this as an opportunity to nourish our relationships with reporters and contacts, to help them out and see where we could provide value.

We decided to call some of our key media contacts, to ask them how they are doing and what kind of content, if any, they would be interested in at this time. The fact is that most of them answered the phone right away and had time for a longer chat than usual.

They all wanted us to keep sending them content. Interestingly, tech media wanted to receive news unrelated to the Corona-crisis, compared to financial media, which mostly preferred Corona-related news. Travel media preferred content that is related to Sweden in some ways but also travel news and trends for the summer for their readers to be inspired. Inspired being the key. And when thinking about it, it makes sense that colorful and happy news is appreciated now, people need reminders that everything will not be on hold forever. We agree with the idea to keep the wheels turning, in a relevant and respectful way. We just need to keep in mind that the safety and health of communities comes first.

The calls also made another thing clear to us. During this crisis, it appears that readers, in general, are interested in what thought leaders and industry experts (that our customers are in industries like construction, travel, IT security, marketing management, telecom etc) think about possible short and long time effects of the Corona crisis and how it might affect their specific field of interest. There are interview possibilities as a result, as long as the content is helpful, educational, and considerate.

With that said, PR hasn’t got any easier. On the contrary, but as of today, we are saying that a decision to pause PR and well-positioned communications efforts shouldn’t be the result of a decreased media interest. Media relations is still a vital part of communications. If clients have uplifting, relevant and information at this time, we should keep the wheels turning.

Now is also a good time for speeding up internal education and learning, explore new communications strategies – perhaps that new content strategy that you were already thinking about anyways, but never got around to implementing.

We are a small company, we feel the effects of COVID-19 for sure, but recommend our clients to liaise with us, analyze what works at the moment and do what we can. Maintain your good media relations, communicate important news and help raise spirits in a respectful way. Everyone wants to return to normal as soon as possible, don’t forget to communicate, and maintain your relationships with your clients, partners, contacts, and friends along the way.

Stay safe! /Henrik Aare, Senior PR-consultant at NLPR 

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