COVID19 and Public Relations: 4 Reasons Why PR is Vital for Business during a Pandemic

COVID19 and Public Relations: 4 Reasons Why PR is Vital for Business during a Pandemic

2020 will forever be remembered as the year of the pandemic. Effects from the year will undoubtedly have a lasting impact for years to come as every business has to adapt to the “new normal”. There is no business that has escaped unaffected. Therefore, businesses of every size globally have been forced to adapt, innovate and overcome the challenges this year has thrown at them. For many, this has been made possible thanks to the help of PR.

Here is just 4 reasons why PR is invaluable to businesses at the time of a crisis such as COVID19: 

  1. To Produce a Crisis Management Plan

Let’s face it, no one could have ever predicted a global pandemic and international lockdown. Coronavirus has brought new issues no one could have ever imagined having to face. However, a crisis management plan in place may have outlined the ways in which to overcome challenges in the event of the business having to temporarily close or reduce output for whatever reason. 

Now, more than ever, businesses need to put in place a plan or evaluate their current one to reduce crisis impact in future. With lives and livelihoods at stake, a crisis management plan simply cannot be overlooked. 

2. To Establish Trust and Integrity 

Inevitably, the global pandemic has created mass distrust. A good PR strategy can instil a  reputation of trustworthiness and credibility for a brand so that gradually consumers will trust the brand without question. 

One way of doing this is through a macro/micro-influencer. An influencer is a powerful tool to gain credibility. However important it is for the blogger to be admired and trusted, most of all the brand and influencer relationship must be genuine, otherwise it will have the opposite effect if consumers sense a false association or a feeling that the influencer doesn’t even use the businesses products/services. 

3. To Maintain a Positive Online Relationship

During the coronavirus pandemic it has been more important than ever before to maintain a relationship with consumers at home. Pre-pandemic business-consumer relationships have diminished especially for businesses that had no online presence or did not fully engage with consumers. 

As society becomes more physically isolated, engaging online with consumers will make them feel more unified in an online community. It provides a safe space where they can maintain a personal relationship to the brand in a time of so much tragedy and negativity. 

Many brands are using their online platform to spread messages of hope and the recurring theme of “stay safe” or “stay at home” which consumers engage well with when brands show they are connected and they care. 

4. To Promote Success

After time it can be extremely beneficial to promote how well you’ve responded to issues caused by COVID19. For example, according to Deloitte (2020), 39% of consumers say they will purchase more in the future from brands that responded well to the crisis.

Brands who highlight their success with steps they have taken on their part to control the virus or simply their role in “doing the right thing” are seen as more genuinely caring by consumers. For example, advertising store closures, social distancing measures, hand sanitising stations and new business practices not only provide information but show they are committed to the protection of the community.

Aveen Moore is a final year BSc student in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter

COVID-19 UK: How social media has affected communication during a pandemic.

COVID-19 UK: How social media has affected communication during a pandemic.

Back in March 2020, if I told you I’d be writing a blog on how communication was affected during a worldwide pandemic and through national lockdowns that saw millions of us in the UK forced to stay at home, you wouldn’t believe me. 

Unfortunately that is the reality and I will be assessing how the coronavirus pandemic has affected how we utilise social media particularly here in the UK.

A platform to share and consume information

Never before has this been more essential to have instant, digital communication straight to our device, as people were seeking ways to keep in touch as physical communication became increasingly difficult and illegal in many ways. Such Information helped to inform us on what was and still seems like “the unknown”. We gathered information on how best to protect ourselves and the more vulnerable in society.  However, social media was a breeding ground for misinformation and of course disinformation in a time of widespread panic and uncertainty. People in a panic can be exploited when exposed to misleading information – particularly during a time when no one is really sure what is happening. One conspiracy theory that gained ground over social media that you may remember is the theory that was spread about 5G and how it was harmful in that it helped the spread of coronavirus. Many believed the virus travelled on radio waves and coronavirus was accelerated in speed by the introduction of 5G. It gained so much attention that it caused Michael Gove to officially refute the claims. 

A platform to entertain

Social media has been a source of entertainment for years, but, in particular 2020 was a year when we found more time to ourselves at home and therefore spent more time online. According to Ofcom (2020), Adults spent record 4 hours a day online in April at the height of the pandemic. The social media platform “TikTok” dominated social media during the pandemic – many users made light jokes of the virus, many helped spread (largely useful) information and others (including myself) consumed these videos for hours on end. 

A platform to stay “social”

In a time when social distancing is in place to fight the virus, we stand together on social media to stay connected. Never before did the UK think they would have to talk to their elderly parents over Zoom or have “lockdown quiz nights” on Houseparty with friends.

Social media can often be viewed as a negative platform for users to express hate and a place that we spend too much time browsing. However the pandemic has highlighted the importance of a safe space to create, share and communicate in unprecedented times.

Aveen Moore is a Communication Management and Public Relations final year student at Ulster University. She can be reached at Twitter