Covid PR: What companies can do to stay in front of customers, media
For the majority of companies, public relations still isn’t a switch you turn on and the media immediately covers them. Even before Covid, there had to be a smart PR plan in place to stay in front of the media from as many different angles as possible. This could actually never be more true than now, as reporters are scrambling to cover so many different topics.
What does that mean? It’s times like these that smart, scrappy PR folk should be thriving.
Here’s the truth: We simply don’t know when pitches will align with a reporter’s or an outlet’s coverage angles. A PR person can send out a great pitch this week, and it may not land — not because it’s a bad pitch — but simply because that reporter is focusing on something else. So, while in the past, many PR people had a good idea of what kind of coverage they could get a client, there is a huge level of unknown.
What Ditto is doing: Ditto is creating weekly media research reports, analyzing outlets to figure out how to pitch them the best.
But if you do things the right way and have a client that’s patient and understands the process, it’s not a question of “if” a client will get media coverage, it’s “when,” and that “when” can only happen if they come up with a smart and scrappy week-over-week approach. Because you want your clients top-of-mind the second a reporter thinks about a topic relevant to them.
So, what does good public relations look like during Covid?
There are a handful of practical, smart ways companies can generate media coverage. What’s tricky is that every week — sometimes every day — the stories reporters are looking for is changing. So, while listing out a bunch of ideas may be useful, the execution is where you need someone who knows what they are doing.
- Real genuine value — Is your product actually helping people right now? At Ditto, we are seeing a lot of this in the edtech space. Additionally, many fintech companies have been providing customers financial relief and advice for years.
- Company data — A lot of our clients are telling me that they are seeing a huge uptick in new customers. Companies need to leverage their data, not just to show they are making money but to show people are finding their products useful during these chaotic times.
- Tips and Listicles — Your company alone may not be important enough to get coverage. How can you be a part of a larger story or listicle? “Three things you can do at home to save money.”
- Survey — Whether you survey your own customers or do a quick survey on Survey Monkey, the media still loves hard data and information. But don’t make it self-serving. Think about the pain points of your potential customers first.
- Customer stories — Reporters are still looking for human interest stories. Some of them could be directly about your product: “How this teacher has adapted to online education.” Another angle could be more holistic: “How this teacher organizes her day to teach class and stay in touch w peers.”
Especially for Founders and CEOs, now is a time to create strong, genuine thought leadership content. But just like in media relations, there’s not one oped or blog post or video you can write that will change your business. You need to come up with a smart, manageable week-over-week approach that reflects you as a leader, how your company is doing, how this impacts your industry and where you think things will be in the future.
Some content ideas that could apply to almost any brand out there:
- Re-organizing internally to service clients. Are people being asked to do things they normally aren’t responsible for?
- Remote work best practices. What are companies doing — and not doing — to ensure continuity? How are they maintaining a strong work culture with a remote workforce?
- Industry insight. Now: What does the covid crisis mean for their industry? Future: What will this mean for their industry in the near and distant future?
- Your commitment to customers and why they need you more than ever.
Every company is different and some of these may not apply to you, but you get the idea. Be a leader, write smart stuff and share it!
What companies really need to think about is how they will share it:
- What medium will they use? Video, Medium, blog, oped, YouTube, etc.
- How will they amplify it online? And who else will share it?
- Once it’s published, share it with the media who may be interested in an interview.
Takeaway: There is still no silver bullet for getting media coverage. And now is harder — but more important — than ever. But if done properly, with time, you can see public relations truly help your company.