The business environment during the coronavirus pandemic has been surprisingly good for PR firms like Bospar. That’s because we’re laser-focused on helping clients tell their stories about pandemic-relevant offerings, like telecommuting and telehealth. When it comes to the recovery, my current feeling is “cautiously optimistic,” and I’m confident that many companies will survive and emerge even stronger.
Surviving is about adaptability, and seasoned pros know the time is now to get creative and flexible and to become more enthusiastic and proactive marketers. During economic difficulties, the reflexive response is to cut budgets, but today’s leader companies are making strategic investments in marketing ahead of tomorrow’s recovery.
Firms can minimize the damage by focusing on fundamentals and by implementing programs that address the pandemic and its impact on their clients, their customers and other key constituencies. Virtual work is the “new normal,” and what was once a trend is now mainstream. Ensuring that regular work is underway with minimal disruptions is a first crucial step.
The next step is focusing on strategic issues, and, for firms like mine, the strategic process began with creating actionable client plans involving factors like staffing, crisis communications and proactive messaging aimed at the customers, prospects and partners of our clients.
Working together with our clients, we’ve developed outbound messaging and campaigns that offer assurance and illustrate our clients’ roles as critical solution providers. This strategy isn’t new, as the brands that were successful after the 2007-2009 recession were the ones that met the moment by offering solutions and perspective.
Marketers can show concern by projecting stability, holding human values high, and demonstrating empathy through their actions. Customer relationships, driven by relevant and thoughtful campaigns, can help mitigate fear and uncertainty, assuring people that corporations are in it for the long haul, along with their customers.
Building brand equity is a powerful technique, because customers will have a reserve of goodwill when the recession abates. Examples include loan deferral programs from the auto industry, free services from internet providers, and payment assistance from financial services companies, ensuring that customers are not devastated financially in addition to dealing with the pandemic.
What’s more, companies can obtain earned media coverage during troubled times. Flexible and timely pitches, including approaches showcasing corporate ingenuity and giving, will resonate with key audiences during the pandemic. Marketing will benefit from connecting with the cultural zeitgeist, and attracting top-of-the-funnel leads is still doable, as are lead nurturing and the ability to close sales.
Additional good news is that PR, social media and content marketing remain the most cost-efficient tools in the toolbox, providing a measurable pathway for driving brand visibility and articulating a company’s values and value proposition. PR enables “doing more with less,” and tomorrow’s top influencers should use this time to share their stories and thought leadership perspectives. Simply put, leaning into PR and marketing today will reap dividends tomorrow.