These are unprecedented times. Most of us haven’t experienced this kind of turmoil before.
As we try to get our bearings and form some kind of a plan to move forward in this rocky economic climate, a question facing most comms teams is: should our PR and marketing strategy change in line with our present reality?
The answer is ‘yes‘. While crisis contingency planning is something many businesses put off, the pandemic has brought it into sharp focus.
As organisations continue scrambling to manage the crisis – both internally and externally – any crisis communications skills you have access to will become invaluable. At See Media, we are used to helping clients with short–term PR crises. But make no mistake, this will not be a crisis that will go away any time soon – we must prepare for the long haul.
Time for strategies to adjust
Now isn’t the time to run a scheduled campaign. Strategies need to adjust – but how much depends on your line of work. The situation around coronavirus is changing daily and organisations need to be agile.
The best communications in a crisis are fast, accurate and helpful. Having never faced a situation like this before, organisations can be forgiven for not having had precise plans in place to respond. However, those plans do need to be made – you can’t continue marketing with your head in the sand.
Now is not the time to abandon your PR and marketing strategy altogether. But, if you’re looking at your campaign schedule or editorial calendar and thinking, well, does this apply anymore? It’s important to ask the below three questions:
- Is coronavirus impacting my audience, and if so, can we help them?
- Will my audience’s priorities shift as a result of the current climate, and if so, how should my content change to reflect that?
- Does coronavirus impact our service offering, and if so, how can we best communicate that to our audience?
Many services still essential
Across the housing sector, there is still a need to continue providing essential services and support to residents. Amidst the chaos, it is impossible to try and maintain complete normality, but the above questions highlight how your marketing and PR communications can be best used during this difficult time.
In fact, I’ve spoken to a number of housing associations over the last week who have told me about the measures they are taking to support any tenants considered to be vulnerable and how teams have been restructured to address any urgent priorities.
From calling residents just to ask if they are ok, to setting up flexible payment plans, this situation (as extreme as it is) has resulted in many of us going the extra mile – in ways, we would not have previously imagined.
Navigating through these unusual circumstances is no easy task – but housing providers who communicate factually and with empathy at this time, have the chance to resurface from the crisis with a deeper connection with their residents and colleagues.
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Sara-Anne Mills-Bricknell is an Account Manager at See Media