Some of the principles of PR are as old as time. It can be said that the aspect of influencing others to go somewhere or purchase something could be traced back to word of mouth recommendations, and that means of communication has been around since there were places to go or things to buy.
Planned public relations, and the industry that has grown around it, is a great deal more recent and the means of communication it can use are much more sophisticated and far reaching. However, the objectives are similar.
It is important to mention this because the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown it caused has put many businesses into mothballs and many services on standby. But this has not been the case for PR, or should not have been the case for companies that have had the imagination to know how use it positively in this time of emergency. And many have done just that.
Catching the public mood
In an online post by THIIS (The Homecare Industry Information Service) magazine relating to PR for mobility retailers, the author advises on how to get journalists to write about your business. “The simple answer is you have to have something ‘newsworthy’ to say about your company and, you have to be careful that it is not considered to be too self-promotional. PR is not advertising. PR is about the way your business communicates with its customers and how it is represented in the media.”
That’s fine as far as it goes, but it relates to media relations, which is just a single element in the range of PR methods. With so many more communications channels available, PR is not just confined to catching the attention of journalists and broadcasters.
Back in May, PR Week ran an article titled “My top 20 lockdown campaigns from around the world.” These were really clever PR initiatives that were in tune with the public mood. This particularly craved the need for something to smile about at a time of high apprehension and of stringent restrictions on movement.
Our particular favourite was launched by the Dallas bookshop “The Wild Detectives” after they went online due to the requirement to shut down retail outlets during lockdown. As PR Week explained: “A website appeared offering “holidays” to destinations including Cuba, Alaska and Brazil. In reality, they were selling books that could transport customers to far-flung climes while being read during lockdown – selling holidays for the mind. Remaining creative under duress is a quite remarkable quality and this campaign is a great example of a brand capable of doing so.”
Flowing through many channels
PR has multiple ways of extending its influence. In a way we all practice it, for instance when we recommend a product, a film or a restaurant to a friend. If this person agrees with our choice, then they may tell their friends and so the positive message spreads.
Today’s means of online communication has meant that messaging can expand very rapidly and across an increasingly widespread universe. So planned public relations programmes need to take into account the vast multiplicity of ways in which communications can be disseminated and brand awareness promoted.
The PR page on this website states that: “We use our PR expertise in many ways, ensuring that PR objectives are prioritised in online content we produce, including for the social networks. With the public increasingly looking to new sources for their news and information, it is important to have a complete view and knowledge of the communication channels available and which ones are best suited for a given story and a specific client.”
You could also add that PR must be able to gauge the mood of the target audiences it is attempting to reach, whether in selected industry sectors, specific demographics or throughout the public at large. This is particularly true as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.
We all talk about the “new normality” that will arise as the coronavirus risk recedes and a new PR will be needed that is appropriate to that time. Fortunately, PR is infinitely flexible and is continually reinventing itself to meet new challenges.
If you would like to discuss PR and communications strategies to support your business in this period of new normality, please contact BBI Brandboost at any time.