THE global health crisis brought about by Covid-19 has moved people to think B.C. is actually Before Covid and A.C. is After Covid. The impact is so huge that all facets of human lives have been and are still being upended—prompting scholars to term the pandemic’s effect as paradigm shifts of seismic proportions to be felt in generations to come. And the world and ways of work in Public Relations has not been spared because PR is being reshaped by what’s happening in D.C. i.e. During Covid.
Because of the overwhelming negative impact of Covid-19 on businesses, marketing budgets have been and are still being cut. Executives are finding ways to rethink and rejig limited budget to stay afloat—hoping to maintain and regain lost consumers and stakeholders. I have heard colleagues in the creative industry reel in pain due to reduced gross billings. Many clients had to rethink big ticket promotional and advertising campaigns to conserve cash.
In the midst of gloom, some silver lining—especially for PR. Talking with some agency owners and executives of in-house PR departments, there seems to be a renewed recognition of the value of Public Relations. Based on their experiences (which is also our experience in our agency, PAGEONE Group), PR plays a critical role in managing the crisis. Both in-house PR departments and agencies are proving their worth of salt to businesses—working around the clock adjusting messaging, giving interviews, writing crisis communications plans, and keeping customers and stakeholders at ease. More than ever, PR is in the center of business continuity. Business leaders realize that in times of crisis, communication is key and PR experts help brands keep all stakeholders informed through troubled and uncertain times.
It is an accepted truism that Covid-19 placed a huge dent on the finances of enterprises. We have seen countless businessmen express their frustration, exasperation and worries in various media channels. Industry leaders lament that the pandemic, more than affecting their bottom lines, have also found themselves managing more on their plates —demanding consumers and stakeholders, increase number of ultra-sensitive publics, more criticisms, and greater attention to their business performance and practices.
In all these difficulties, PR has always been able to navigate these complex and troubled waters, And it looks like PR has played well its role in helping companies prepare and survive this multi-generational crisis of a lifetime.
Covid-19 has confirmed that PR is not just fluff as others often want to frame it. During the pandemic, PR executives and agency leaders have proven that PR builds and strengthens relationships. PR has been successful in risk communication, enabling pertinent parties and agencies to work freer and smoother in managing the pandemic. We see PR’s hand in the coming together of government agencies and local government units to design and deploy strategies that will keep all healthy and safe. We see PR’s role in keeping the bridge between companies and its stakeholders and consumers to achieve mutually beneficial and value-increasing projects even during crisis.
On top of its role as relationship builders, PR also came out on top as trust-builder and promoter when the crisis threatened to erode the bond between businesses and their external and internal stakeholders. There have been surveys and studies that show people expect brands to do more for society during the pandemic. This means, brand and businesses should be part of the solutions to societal problems and care more about the public interest. Today, we see PR is successfully steering brand communications to more sustainability engagements and compassion communication. And I believe this behavior generates positive dividends for organizations. This is very evident when we see leading local and multinational companies reap praises and establish better patronage of their brands when executives exercise strong benevolent leadership during this time.
In other words, PR keeps brands and companies relevant even when the pandemic is wreaking havoc in our economy, even without huge budgets. We are excellent listeners to consumers’ demands and excellent responders by providing and communicating products and services that are attuned to consumer needs. And in our valiant efforts to keep companies and brands relevant, PR manifests that practitioners and professionals are brave. We fight fights to keep the bond between our companies and partners alive despite some of its flames being extinguished no thanks to the virus.
And as business owners and leaders now realize, it is PR that they need to handhold organizations to adapt to new social realities. It is PR that executives turn to, to manage uncomfortable issues that may been disturbed by the pernicious effects of the pandemic such as diversity and inclusion, pay inequalities, health-care benefits. housing facilities and transportation and Internet allowances, among others. Thus, in a lot of soul-searching currently being done by organizations, PR plays a critical role. More and more businessmen are realizing they need the resilient PR to overcome the humps and maintain stability.
Businesses and brands are expressing a better appreciation of PR , along with its counterparts in human resources, because of its primordial role in employee engagement. When management needs to keep employees regularly updated and safe, PR through its internal communications specialists, are indispensable staples.
Ultimately, PR professionals are well placed to help businesses and brands become more authentic. Studies show 71 percent of consumers are put off when they perceive that a brand is putting profit over people. And when this perception persists, consumers lose trust in that brand forever. We see how the pandemic saw a huge increase in consumers and stakeholders looking deeply into the company’s supply chains. Given the increased amount of interest and scrutiny, business must be authentic and transparent. And this can only be done with sound, sincere communication through PR.
These days, consumers can sniff out a fake from the real ones; hence, PR is truly finding its groove D.C.