PR remains steadfast as the one-to-many communication method for businesses, especially with most forms of marketing either in decline or at least going through a dramatic refocus. As a resurgence in the consumption of news - specifically local news - and with an online audience sat at home, PR has become the supercharged tool in the marketing toolbox. Selling has always been a game of persuasion in the business-to-business world, as audiences are proven to buy from trusted or recommended brands. Therefore, they are far more receptive to marketing messages once trust has been established.
Post pandemic, it is clear that the lines of communications should continue to stay strong between businesses and consumers. Building trust, relationships and establishing reputation supports businesses end goals by retaining customers and more importantly, creating new ones.
Drive for content
Thought-provoking content delivered through the media is key, and has become vital for businesses, allowing them to contribute to industry conversation by speaking directly to the market about existing issues. This has become the new marketing currency to get involved in the conversation and be heard above the background noise. Positioning brands as experts within the industry is key to communicating with their audience, whilst reaffirming the trust between brand and consumer.
At the start of lockdown, consumers were overwhelmed with brands pushing major sales or letters from CEOs explaining the lockdown and the status that their business was in to reassure their audience. Throughout the pandemic, media has remained the primary influencer, meaning that marketing and PR teams output were more vital than ever. Due to this, businesses were able to reinvent their messaging and output by reviewing customer data and feedback, whilst utilising marketing automation tools to create a more personalised message, thus contributing to a stronger relationship between companies and consumers.
Main pandemic challenges
Marketing, advertising and PR budgets were the first costs to be cut at the start of the lockdowns, and brands had to rethink how to reach their audience. During Covid-19, the World Federation of Advertisers found that more than 80% of large advertisers paused their advertising campaigns, and nearly 60% decreased their budgets
As social distancing restrictions began, face to face meetings were also put on hold and tradeshows disappeared, forcing them to be hosted on an online platform. But do they have the same effect? Event organisers were desperate to continue to retain advertising campaigns and sponsorship surrounding shows, and ultimately had to be really creative. The lack of this physical interaction and change to digital forms of communication has been a challenge for businesses.
PR agencies have used this time to reinvent their clients through more creative ways such as thought leadership, a blog series or creating a more personable brand experience. Now, audiences are more fragmented due to the rise in social media platforms. Traditional marketing is less valuable in the current climate. But there is also an opportunity, and the most innovative, forward-thinking companies could still find ways to promote their brands to consumers, using PR.
Creating a collaborative and solid internal communication channel within your business has proven to be vital over the last couple of years. PR has played a key role in continuing to connect to audiences and prospects alike for businesses, especially throughout Covid-19. Audiences relied on the brands they trust to continue to channel communication - and will continue to do so post-pandemic.
Written by Ashley Carr, founder and managing director of agency Neo PR
If you enjoyed this article, you can subscribe for free to our twice weekly event and subscriber alerts.
Currently, every new subscriber will receive three of our favourite reports about the public relations sector.