Tips for Media Relations as Coronavirus Dominates

The global focus on COVID-19 is changing the way nearly all of us live, communicate and consume media. Much of the world finds itself at home, following news about one thing. As a result, communicators and PR pros must make adjustments.

Many companies and organizations have decided to cease public communications, advertising or marketing. For others, the show goes on. They send personnel announcements, launch products and advertise existing and new services.

Whatever path you're following, here are tips to consider:

First, do no harm

PR disasters are lurking. As a result, it is critical that every organization audit current and planned messaging.

Matt House

Begin with a road map of phrases to avoid during this sensitive time. Thinking about marketing a hands- on experience during this moment of social distancing and hygiene? Want your video to go viral when the public is trying to avoid the pandemic? Don’t. Once you’ve made this list of phrases to avoid, check your communications and marketing plans to make sure you’re steering clear of them.

Adjust expectations

It has been a long, long time since we’ve seen a media environment this crowded. The attention paid to COVID-19 makes the focus on the impeachment proceedings look like a blip on the historical radar.

Even the best roll-outs and most creative ideas will be drowned out; it would be a mistake to pretend otherwise with executives or those you represent.

As a result, it is critical that you adjust expectations when it comes to getting coverage for non-virus stories. Revise KPIs.

There is a silver lining, though: non-financial bad news won’t get as much coverage either.

Don’t watch the pitch go by

The flip side of COVID-19 crowding out most other news is that people are starved for virus stories. Every reporter is trying to figure out an angle. Food writers, financial reporters, human interest journalists, bloggers. They all need content.

Now is the time for creativity. Help media connect the dots. Do you have experts who can talk about supply chain issues? How about local retailers to explain the ways they’re accommodating social distancing and adjusting accordingly? Think creatively about inserting your voice into this moment.

Have a heart

Above all--be human. Think about the mood of your audience. People are worried. Make certain your tone and plans meet these strange times with care and thoughtfulness.

Matt House is a VP at Clyde Group