NOT Business As Usual: How PR and Marketing Techniques are Changing in Today’s COVID-19 Climate

This is an interesting time to work in PR and Marketing. If our industry ever had to lace up our sneakers and practice our pivot, this is it.

When unexpected and dramatic global events take place, our marketing environment and audience shifts as well. How we adapt our content and PR strategies during a crisis is what will help us navigate through the storm.

In today’s climate, “business-as-usual” PR and marketing tactics can seem tone-deaf to consumers who may be struggling during these unprecedented times. There’s a big difference between pitching your product or service in a relevant manner, to capitalizing on fears. 

So how do we maneuver our strategies in a way that is meaningful, while optimizing opportunities without being opportunistic? Never have you ever had such a captive audience on so many accessible channels – traditional media, online media, podcasting, social media, video conferencing sites, YouTube, etc. 

Now that the vast majority have binged through streaming content like Tiger King, Too Hot To Handle and Pandemic, they are craving something more authentic. And they’re taking the time to become familiar with platforms like Tik Tok and Zoom. 

You don’t have to be an influencer or TV producer to successfully channel your inner JJ Abrams. There has never been a more opportune time to play with social, to practice your hand at becoming a content creator, and to connect with your ideal audience in a more laid back way. Where to start? From your own home of course!

The New Content Creators

Zirkova Vodka co-founders, Katherine and John Vellinga, decided to have fun with the ways they engage rather than focus on the face-to-face connections they’ve lost due to this ‘new normal’.  Until recently, the brand had depended on exposure and sales from in-store tastings, so when those were halted, they introduced their 7’oclock-tail hour on Facebook and Instagram. Every night at 7pm, the founders share a video of themselves in their kitchen creating innovative cocktails with whatever they have on hand. Not only did their engagement and views increase by hundreds of thousands, they found a new online audience! It didn’t take long for others to be inspired to share videos of their own concoctions! 

Anaida Deti, registered dental hygienist and founder and CEO of DentalX recently spoke to CTV’s Pauline Chan about how to keep your oral health in check while in quarantine/self-isolation, and what to do if you think you have a dental emergency. Since her dental clinic has temporarily closed for all non-emergency appointments, Anaida knew at-home oral hygiene maintenance is of utmost importance. She regularly communicates with clients through written and video posts about current content that is relevant and valuable. It’s also a great substitute for the face-time we’re all craving.

The Mompreneur organization led by founder and CEO Maria Locker, took a different approach. When they made the difficult decision to postpone their annual awards and conference, Maria chose to get in front of their members right away. Her team took their conference online, while also increasing their online educational sessions, speaker  engagement, webinars, and weekly online meetings. Instead of closing up shop, they have continued to communicate to their members and be transparent about their shift into the virtual world. 

Pitch Perfect

If you’re sick of COVID-19 coverage, just know that the media is, too! Alas, this is our current reality and with daily updates and breaking news, these types of stories will continue to dominate the headlines. 

As former producers, our team is creative when it comes to coming up with relevant and timely angles, and you can too – just make sure that if you are going to pitch something to the media that you come from a place of service and not self-service. Ask yourself, ‘what value can I bring to an audience?’ and how does what you have to share affect them in a way that will inform, improve, educate, elevate or entertain them?

If you’re looking for media coverage or to provide expert commentary, create pitches that:

  • Are relevant, timely and seasonal
  • Provide valuable resources that will help viewers, readers or listeners cope – or even better, THRIVE – under these circumstances
  • Aren’t SELLING, but marketing to a need (yes, there is a difference!)
  • Provides tips and tricks that will help navigate through this quarantine, be it financial, health, wellness, legal, parenting, mental health, taxation, fitness, food and drink, gardening or whatever other secret sauce you can share

Don’t forget, you have a captive audience online right now – use this time wisely! And have fun while you’re at it.


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