It’s October, the news headlines are still dominated by coronavirus. From a PR perspective this brings separate challenges, on the one hand, the public is spending more time accessing news content and seeking positive stories presenting a huge opportunity for meaningful content to cut through. However, the endless uncertainty makes it challenging to put concrete campaign plans in place until the last minute. Even after launch, varying regional restrictions and alterations in the general population’s mood could render messaging suddenly inappropriate, requiring a change in tack. Creativity and flexibility are more critical than ever.
Quick reactions have always been crucial when working with the press and in the age of Covid, this has never been truer. In the space of 24 hours, regions are assigned new restrictions – from a brand perspective, what you were promoting in your press release at the start of the week may be impossible or irrelevant before the journalist has written it up, limiting your opportunities for exposure. Furthermore, with press working remotely again and sadly, many journalist redundancies, it is increasingly difficult to discuss and pitch in stories directly.
Yet, now more than ever the public is hungry for good content. If we were to chart public sentiment towards the virus, as we would track consumer sentiment towards a brand – the volume of mentions remains high, and Covid boasts a large share of voice but perceptions are negative and “fatigue” has set in. Communicating in this environment presents opportunities to shake things up and give the public new ideas to focus on.
Creating messages that cut through is not always easy. Dwelling on coronavirus will only further dampen spirits but ignoring the current circumstances completely will make campaigns unrelatable. Developing effective concepts requires a mix of creativity, empathy and common sense. Plans need contingency measures to allow for adaptation, but if they are rooted in the brand’s core messages, they will have a longer shelf life.
To create campaigns with a contingency, start with the basics:
- Review the brand’s core key messages, tone of voice and “evergreen” ideals – the campaign needs to say on-brand
- Identify primary media targets and the results you want to achieve. Look at the stories these outlets are covering and refer to previous successful campaigns to pinpoint why they worked so well
- If possible, run ideas past a handful of journalists to test them
- List the current issues and topics of conversation within the sector and highlight areas to comment on and which to avoid
- Brainstorm! We structure session so that the first 10 minutes allows for all ideas, however, wacky to air and then we collectively choose between three and five to focus on. This way we think about how they will practically work, how the content will be structured and what tactics we will use.
- Consider what is possible and relevant in the current climate and how the message could evolve if the coronavirus situation worsens or improves
- Do you need to commission research or a third-party expert, if so, how time sensitive are the results?
- How will the campaign be rolled out and, if the news agenda shifts would you delay launch or focus on developing features and thought leadership content rather than a pure news story. We note these down so that we can refresh our memories if needed or go back to them when planning future campaigns.
To discuss media campaign planning, contact Caroline Walker on 01732 779 087.