CORONAVIRUS UPDATES: Communications, Coverage and PR Best Practices

coronavirus outbreak

Check back regularly for our latest coverage related to communications, PR and the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.


THE LATEST 

March 4, 2021

No Masking the Difficulty of Decisions Facing Texas Businesses

by Nicole Schuman

On March 3, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced an end to the state’s mask mandate. In addition, businesses can open at 100 percent capacity. Both begin March 10.

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Feb. 24, 2021

How Communicators Can Inspire Employees to Vaccinate

by Will Zesiger

As communicators plan for the year ahead, one thing is certain: The COVID-19 vaccine will play an important role. Returning to the workplace, safeguarding employees and protecting the broader community will hinge upon whether or not employees take the vaccine.

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Feb. 19, 2021

American Cleaning Institute Recalls Year of Crisis Communication

by Nicole Schuman

In March 2020, finding a can of Lysol disinfectant or a bottle of Purell hand sanitizer felt like uncovering buried treasure. With COVID-19 quickly spreading to a global pandemic, people turned to a familiar form of protection when it came to germs—cleaning.

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Jan. 12, 2021

Vaccine Campaign Messaging Promotes Real-Life Moments

by Nicole Schuman

COVID vaccine messaging is about to get another shot in the arm through the release of a new confidence campaign called “Because of This,” launching Tuesday. “Because of This” includes four PSAs which strive to remind Americans of the reasons for vaccination: the importance of our close, personal relationships. The ads include real people who provided personal footage for the campaign.

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Jan. 4, 2021

Eat or Be Eaten: Battling Dirty Data During The Pandemic

Data is data, right? Not if it's dirty. Considering how many businesses have downsized, closed temporarily or shuttered completely, it's a good bet that a significant number of contacts on your marketing lists are out of date. Ditto employees, some of whom were furloughed, terminated or work from home (do you have their correct address and phone number?). Now's the time to begin cleaning.

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Dec. 28, 2020

How Being in PR Helped Me Plan a Wedding During COVID

It's said that life sometimes imitates art. For many PR pros in 2020, it was difficult to separate life at home from life at work. For at least one PR pro, the confluence of home and work was beneficial as she learned that training in PR helped her stage a wedding during the pandemic.

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Dec. 18, 2020

Facts and Proper Language Can Overcome Vaccine Hesitancy

Vaccines for COVID-19 have arrived and logistics for distribution seem to be in place. Now another hurdle exists: convincing enough of the public that the vaccines work as advertised and that they're safe and necessary. Reciting data and statistics to bolster trust will work only to a point. The communication piece of the vaccine effort must proceed carefully, speaking to people in language they can understand.

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Dec. 14, 2020

COVID Vaccine Images Provide Hope After a Year of Pain

by Nicole Schuman

Video and images flooded social media this morning after several states launched emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine. Many government entities and news outlets broadcast the first inoculations live, providing a sliver of hope in a year when so many have lost loved ones across the globe.

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Dec. 4, 2020

Digital Pivots May Save Brands this Holiday Season

by Nicole Schuman

Flexibility requires brands to treat the holidays a bit differently than in years past. With more families staying home to avoid the COVID-19 spread, ecommerce has become the buying method of choice. How can brands stand out in a sea of online options? Creative content can help.

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Nov. 30, 2020

How AstraZeneca Spun Its COVID-19 Crisis

AstraZeneca committed classic crisis PR mistakes last week with its initial announcement about its coronavirus vaccine. Its incomplete reporting to the media led to several subsequent statements that could degrade trust in the company and its vaccine.

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Nov. 19, 2020

PR Pros Finding Creative Angles to Pitch During the Pandemic

by Seth Arenstein

It's not an easy time in general. Perhaps more so for media relations pros, who are pitching against several dominant stories and an eclectic pastiche of other items. Still, PR pros are nothing if not resourceful. The best are finding opportunities in the crowded field. Here are a few on November 19, 2020.

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Nov. 16, 2020

Vaccine News Releases Promote Collaboration, Not Competition

by Nicole Schuman

Upon first glance, observers of the media might think pharmaceutical companies are in a race to become the first to develop and administer a COVID-19 vaccine. This belief strengthens with every announcement coming from Pfizer last week or Moderna, as we saw today.

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Oct. 29, 2020

The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t: Brands Step Up

by Nicole Schuman

Thanks to COVID-19, Halloween may look anything but traditional this year. With socially-distanced corn mazes and spooky carwashes trying to fill the gap, and costume parades and haunted houses cancelled and closed, respectively, one shining item remains an uncertainty—the annual trick-or-treat.

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Oct. 28, 2020

Kardashian Post Gets Insta-Memed, Disrupts COVID-19 Healthcare Comms

by Sophie Maerowitz

Celebrities—they’re just like us.

That sentiment might have landed in the era of celebrity spotting on beaches and in Whole Foods, but in a pandemic year, audiences do not want to hear it.

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Oct. 27, 2020

Tips for Communicators Considering a Transition Back to the Office

While most of us won't be back in our offices soon, communication leaders are beginning to imagine how to invite some staff into a hybrid model of in-office and remote. How safe and comfortable PR pros feel will be of utmost importance.

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Oct. 22, 2020

Opening a Skyscraper During a Pandemic: One Vanderbilt

by Nicole Schuman

New York City became a national epicenter of COVID-19 cases in April 2020. The government closed non-essential businesses, such as bars, restaurants, theaters and shops. Offices mandated employees work from home where able, and living rooms became classrooms. Launching a business seemed like an unfathomable idea.

And yet, the real estate team at PR firm BerlinRosen forged ahead to prepare for the ribbon-cutting and launch of One Vanderbilt, the newest addition to the city skyline.

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Oct. 14, 2020

Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly Hit the PR Pause Button on COVID Trials

by Sophie Maerowitz

For PR pros, the race to find a vaccine and treatment serves as a natural experiment in healthcare communication. After all, communicators can always learn from examples of messaging, especially when it comes to delivering unhappy news.

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Oct. 13, 2020

A Flight to Nowhere Proves It’s The Experience, Not the Destination

by Seth Arenstein

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is selling out its planes—though they never leave the ground. Customers are paying to eat airline food in parked aircraft, the BBC reports. Each 'seating'—the planes are half full owing to social distancing—lasts three hours. Movies are available while dining. Economy (starting at $40 US) and first-class seats ($500) are available. BBC reported the first two seating dates sold out in 30 minutes. There's a waiting list for future dates.

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Oct. 9, 2020

NFL’s COVID Chaos Leaves Fans, Players Confused

by Nicole Schuman

The NFL had the good fortune of six months of lead time since coronavirus emerged to develop a plan with the NFL Players Association. It also has had the benefit of seeing how seasons and tournaments played out with other major league sports, including the NBA, NHL and MLB. If you remember, not too long ago, the MLB dealt with a COVID outbreak. And yet, football fans and players are left with a glut of silence from the NFL. The lack of information and messaging is allowing for much speculation among fan communities on social media. No one is happy.

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Oct. 6, 2020

Why Hope is Necessary for Crisis and Its Worst Enemy

by Seth Arenstein

It’s rare when one event, or several, suffocates coverage of a crisis. The exceptions are out there, though. A good Super Bowl can do it. As can a controversial confirmation for a Supreme Court justice nominee. The latest example, of course, was the president’s positive coronavirus test. The news broke Thursday night (Oct. 1). His visit to Walter Reed, which started late the next day and ended Monday night (Oct. 5), dominated the news cycle all weekend.

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Oct. 5, 2020

Trump Hospital Visit Leaves Gaping Informational Holes, Opportunity for Misinformation

by Nicole Schuman

The president has been managing his daily workload as usual, according to White House videos and photos. Subsequently, Trump is delivering an image of normalcy to the media and public. However, few details of his infection are known. Clarity has been marred by contrasting information (see Dr. Sean Conley and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows) and a lack of transparent detail from the White House, leading much of the media to speculate and drum up outside sources.

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Oct. 2, 2020

President’s COVID-19 Night Highlights Need for Transparency

by Seth Arenstein

Many Americans awakened this morning to the news that the First Couple has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The president tweeted the news a bit before 1 a.m. ET. News operations had an inkling something was afoot long before that, however. Yesterday evening, around 8 p.m. ET, media reports quoted sources saying presidential advisor Hope Hicks, the former White House communication official, had tested positive.

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Sept. 17, 2020

Big Ten’s Reversal on Season Raises Questions

by Nicole Schuman

The confusion continues across the country surrounding what is safe and unsafe during the pandemic. While many colleges, universities and public schools reopened with safety measures in place, several have had to close again due to COVID outbreaks and spread. This also rings true for businesses. JPMorgan Chase welcomed back traders and staff to its Manhattan location just after Labor Day, only to send employees home this week after a worker contracted the virus.

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Sept. 15, 2020

The Pandemic and Communication are Intimately Related: Discuss

by Seth Arenstein

A politically-appointed communicator at HHS, under fire for several things, reportedly has decided to resign his post. The communicator, Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official, was accused in Politico exclusive Friday of toning down CDC scientists' reports about COVID-19. The reports, Caputo argued, failed to support the president's messaging about the virus. Two days after that article went live, Caputo hurt his cause. During a Sunday session on Facebook Live, Caputo alleged the CDC and its scientists were housing a “resistance unit” designed to undermine the president.

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Sept. 13, 2020

9/11 and COVID-19: A Communicator Reflects on Life Lessons

by Seth Arenstein

Veteran PR pro Rob Densen was in his office in one of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. He also was there years earlier, when a truck bomb detonated underneath the complex, killing 6 and injuring 1,000. Densen is an optimist. After 9/11, he almost has to be. Given a chance, he says, people will do the right thing. It's how he explains why NYFD, NYPD and other first responders ran up the stairs, into the Towers on 9/11, as he and others were scrambling down.

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Sept. 4, 2020

Coronavirus Communication and Sanjay Gupta’s Sobering Labor Day

by Seth Arenstein

Instead of lauding Memorial Day weekend 2020 as the end of the pandemic, historians one day will see it differently. Social activities that weekend led to a spike in the South and West. July 4 parties poured gasoline on the flame. Now, with many states and localities easing restrictions and schools reopening, some public health experts are experiencing sleepless nights pondering Labor Day weekend 2020's legacy.

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Aug. 24, 2020

Crisis Plans for Back-to-School Include a Closing Strategy

by Nicole Schuman

Many school districts across the country face issues regarding preparation and safety with staggered openings. At the beginning of August, Georgia’s largest school district—Gwinnett County Public Schools—which serves 180,000 students, returned only to find 260 employees test positive for the virus in the days following. The district moved to on-line learning, but may bring some students back.

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Aug. 7, 2020

Schools Work to Create Clear Communications Plans for Return

by Nicole Schuman

It’s a tense time for education. Teachers are fraught with worry over possible outbreaks of the virus in their classrooms. Parents fret about sending children to college, where safe behavior cannot be guaranteed. For those with younger children, a concern is that schools have loose guidelines around masks, and a lot of speculation.

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July 30, 2020

Australian Premier Releases Impressive Coronavirus Statement

by Nicole Schuman

In some countries, leaders are not taking any chances when a COVID spike occurs. As of this morning, the premier of Victoria, a province in Australia, released a statement announcing mandatory face coverings for the entire state, not just heavily-populated urban areas. Victoria is home to Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne.

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July 17, 2020

Communicators Say ‘We Need to Help a Confused Country’

by Seth Arenstein

What happened? Things were supposed to be different. Five months into the pandemic, many of us expected the virus would be receding. Political officials told us so. Instead, cases in nearly 40 states are on the rise. Yesterday, the U.S. set a record for new cases in a single day, at 70,000. Problems many believed were over are not. Hospitals and medical staffs in the south and southwest are overwhelmed, and there are reports of PPE and testing shortages.

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July 2, 2020

Vanilla Ice, Airlines Need to Read the Room via Social Listening

by Nicole Schuman

It’s not a surprise that many people need to take social media breaks nowadays. With the daily deluge of bad news and waves of hot takes, everyone has an opinion, and no one is afraid to share it. However, some brands and public figures could benefit from spending MORE time on social media, particularly before making big announcements or decisions. While market research is not a new tactic, it may adhere to a newer term called social listening, which takes the temperature of how people feel about topics and brands on social platforms. Read the room is not just a phrase, it's a strategic tactic.

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