The New Normal: UN’s Historic Ask of Communicators, Hoda Emotes, Pitching and Social Hold Tight 

Since part of the new normal finds many of us at home, consuming media almost non-stop, the need for new ads and PSAs is rising. After you’ve seen a PSA or heard a message many times in succession, no matter how good it is, you tend to ignore it.

UN Seeks Messaging

Anticipating the need for inventory around the pandemic, the United Nations issued “a call to creatives” yesterday to compose pandemic-related PSAs and messages in multiple mediums (social, digital, streaming, print, broadcast, and radio) and 18 languages. It's the first time the UN has issued such a call.

The UN said it wants to spread useful information about: “personal hygiene, social distancing, know the symptoms, kindness contagion, myth busting and do more/donate.”

Its offer is open to “creators, influencers, media owners, brands, community groups” and, cleverly, “human beings,” the UN said. A form to begin the process is here.

Topsy Turvy Ad Market

Another part of the new normal pertinent to communicators and marketers is how the ad market is reacting. Normally, increased usage on platforms translates into higher prices for ads. The virus has altered that norm.

Twitter, for example, has seen daily usage spike 23 percent this year. Yet, its ad business is down 20 percent this month. Anticipating an economic slowdown, brands have halted or reduced advertising buys. Ditto for Facebook, Google and The New York Times — usage is up, but ad revenue is expected to fall.


There are aspects of the new normal that have changed in degree only. In normal times, PRNEWS' offices are flooded with pitches urging us to interview PR executives.

During the pandemic, the number of pitches coming into our (home) offices offering interviews has risen significantly. Nearly all offer to introduce us to PR crisis-communication pros.

Takeaway 1: Instead of pitching journalists with what you are offering, why not ask them first what they need. Some content creators will, of course, want crisis experts. Others covering this space, though, seek sources on remote work, creativity, strategy, leadership, social media and internal communications, to name a few. In short, during the pandemic so far, PR is not all about crisis communications.

Takeaway 2: A basic premise of media pitching during normal times holds that you get to know the journalist, or at least the publication, that you’re pitching. That holds during the pandemic period. Don’t send blind pitches that prove you’ve not done your homework.

With so many journalists and publications going 24/7 coronavirus coverage, it’s doubly bad to begin a pitch the way the one we received this morning did (below). It offered an interview, though not one with a crisis expert:

Dear Seth!

Hope you are keeping well. I wanted to see if you were working on any stories on how brands and businesses are managing social media and PR efforts amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

Emotions Running High

During a PRNEWS webinar this week, speakers such as Gil Bashe, managing partner, global health lead, Finn Partners, emphasized the need for corporate communications in this environment to increase its emotional component.

Similarly, TV is going places it's rarely visited. It's become a more human medium as audiences and talent share concerns about health, finances and the future. "Today" host Hoda Kotb broke down this morning during a segment with New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees. A former reporter in New Orleans, Kotb was overcome to learn Brees and his wife donated $5 million to fight the pandemic. Social media lauded Kotb's display of emotion.

Social Media Remains Fickle

During pre-coronavirus times, social media was a double-edged sword. It helped make brands and certain celebrities seem more approachable. Then there were the tone-deaf miscues and miscalculations that potentially could destroy reputations with amazing speed.

At the moment, of course, social is helping many of us connect with friends and loved ones. What's changed is how social is used. Part of the new normal has late-night TV hosts communicating with viewers on social platforms. In some cases, such as "The Daily Show," they are providing useful health information (see below).

On the other hand, actor Gal Gadot and a bunch of her celeb friends took to social last week for some do-gooding. The rich and famous covered "Imagine," believing they were entertaining homebound fans. Social's reaction was decidedly mixed. As PRNEWS' Sophie Maerowitz wrote March 24, "Celebs’ attempts to lighten the mood...did not impress those who felt influencers’ time would be better spent donating their millions to worthy charities, or...promoting COVID relief." 

Similarly, Visa chairman Al Kelly apparently felt it was good to make a public pledge on LinkedIn that there will be no layoffs during 2020 at his company. Again, reaction was mixed. Plenty hailed Kelly's move, saying it was courageous leadership. Others accused him of arrogance and using the pandemic to score points. Several wondered how Kelly could make such a pledge in this uncertain moment.

As we said, not everything has changed in the new normal.

This article is part of PRNEWS' daily COVID-19 coverage, click here to see the latest updates.