PR and marketing in a Covid world, what’s next?

PR and marketing in a Covid world

As we ride out yet another tumultuous month on the never-ending corona coaster, brand owners and business leaders are looking for new ideas on how to communicate with their audiences effectively and keep their businesses front of mind.

This last six months has turned many traditional aspects of communications on its head, with print media taking a nosedive, social media use growing exponentially and events going virtual. It’s clear Coronavirus isn’t going anywhere for now, so how do brands and businesses continue to reach their audiences in new and innovative ways?

Here’s our take on what to expect from PR and marketing amid the ever changing Corona chaos:

1. The Future of PR

It’s sadly true that the media has taken a huge hit as a result of Covid19. Titles have closed, others are hanging on by the skin of their teeth and many journalists have unfortunately been furloughed or made redundant.

People are consuming more news online and on social media than ever before. In fact, recent figures by Statista show that, during lockdown, social media use was up by over 40% – not surprising!

Brands are starting to focus more on quick wins over long-lead print coverage and on digital PR and content to support their online marketing and SEO strategies.

Additionally, brands that can pivot quickly or think on their feet can nail some strong press coverage, especially if it has a socially-conscious edge. Legendary Manchester pizzeria, Rudy’s, landed some excellent local press coverage and kudos recently for supplying the self-isolating ManMet students with free bake-at-home pizza and beer. This led to great press exposure for the brand and no doubt excellent awareness and loyalty with hundreds of potential customers for the next three years! Large firms have also been generating news with clever stories throughout the pandemic; much-loved chain Wagamama hit the headlines when they published their secret recipe for their signature Katsu Curry which customers could make at home during lockdown.

Traditional PR and media relations still has its place, with journalists on the lookout for positive non-Corona related stories, products to review, expert comment for features and thought leadership pieces about key topics. It could take a little longer to get in touch and most journalists won’t have time to sift through irrelevant content so they will be expecting information to be concise, relevant and timely, but it’s still possible to land some great press exposure for your brands and services if you are clever, targeted and tenacious.

Anecdotally, PR’s have seen an upsurge in journalists looking for innovative products and services that support wellbeing, as stress and anxiety levels reach new highs because of the ever-changing Covid landscape and rumbling uncertainty.

2. Virtual events get creative

Even though some companies and event organisers have tentatively arranged events for 2021, we are still not sure what the world will look like next year, so it’s safe to say that Zoom conferences, digital seminars, live-streamed concerts and interactive events will continue.

Expect to see businesses and brands planning all sorts of events like cookalongs, film festivals, wellness and yoga events, gigs, expert panels, fashion shows and more, all in the virtual arena.

The exciting thing about the virtual events space is that ideas can be truly global and innovative, bringing in speakers and experts from all over the world to engage audiences and bring something new. If you have ever dreamt about being front row at a fashion show or watching a Cannes Film Festival movie live, it could happen…..

Brands have shown an enormous amount of quick thinking and creativity in the events space since the crisis hit in Spring. From taking incredible exhibitions online, such as Christian Dior’s virtual Designer of Dreams exhibition (which was previously held at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris) to TeaPigs launching a series of virtual tea tastings, and legendary DJ Graeme Park streaming a 12 hour set on United We Stream.

3. Reassessing audiences is key

The pandemic has changed consumer behaviour dramatically. Consumers are – understandably – looking for good value products and services, abandoning loyalty in some areas, shopping digitally more than ever and being mindful about the products that they buy. They have also been drawn to companies and brands that have a human-centric approach and have looked after their employees and their community during the pandemic so far.

Going back to basics with customer profiling before embarking on a new campaign could open up new opportunities for your products, services and communications. It could be that you need to harness different aspects of the marketing comms mix to reach your new and existing customers – be it different social platforms, PPC, paid-for ads or advertorials or traditional media relations.

4. Purpose continues to prosper

The Coronavirus crisis has shone a spotlight on brands who have been socially-conscious during the pandemic – brands that have down-tooled to help their customers, pivoted their offering to provide community services and free products, and pitched in with local charity projects and more.

Brands that are able to tell their story and communicate their mission and values – especially conscious, sustainable, ethical or eco practices – simply and succinctly will cut through the noise more effectively, so make sure your purpose and your ethically and socially responsible stories are communicated well to your customers and potential customers to bring the human side of your business to life.

5. Expect to invest in paid media

Although traditional PR is still getting results, consider supporting your key titles with some spend if you can. Many industry and trade titles, and consumer print titles especially, have taken a big hit over the course of the pandemic and may be struggling to stay afloat without paid-for investment.

If you regularly target a handful of industry titles that are important to your business sector, consider a competition, a sponsored piece or a digital package to boost your key messages to the readers of these publications. You may curry favour with some of the titles who have been good to your company over the years, by supporting them during these testing times as they ride out 2020.

6. Exciting new product developments

Although the initial lockdown was tough on many businesses, it also gave many brands, makers, artisan foodies, brewers and distillers the chance to pause and reflect on what they can do in the NPD arena with the resources that they have.

Innovation has been rife and we can expect to see the fruits of this creativity very soon, so get prepared to see some pioneering NPD developments coming to fruition over the next few months and into 2021. Think delicious hard seltzers, CBD-infused teas and beauty products,
collagen drinks, unusual healthy snacking products, incredible chocolate bars featuring a range of unusual flavours, vegan ingredients and much, much more…

7. Collaboration equals innovation

Lockdown and the Covid19 pandemic has brought us all closer together in many ways, and the PR and marketing industry has become more collaborative as a result.

Purple Riot has happily collaborated with other local agencies to produce amazing client campaigns that have come to fruition by taking this approach and using the best skill sets from each agency. We predict new, more flexible PR and marketing agency models and more collaboration over competition in 2021.

8. Instagram marketing- the next phase

Influencer campaigns have remained an important part of brand marketing and PR strategies throughout 2020, with a big focus on fashion, home and wellbeing products for obvious reasons.

Mega and macro influencers with their hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers can be great for brand awareness, but with their huge follower bases come huge partnership fees, and lower levels of engagement.

Many micro-influencers have built highly engaged, hugely authentic, and trusting audiences. They can work quickly and with smaller budgets, and the launch of Reels has given more options for creative content. However, we do hope the pointing at words trend disappears soon!

Grind, a London-based cafe which roasts coffee for its outlets, now makes and sells compostable Nespresso pods that can be shipped anywhere, serving two million cups of coffee per year. The brand utilised Instagram over the pandemic period by using targeted sponsored Instagram Stories to showcase their journey, their USP and their sustainable credentials. Stories allowed them to do this in a creative, visual way, driving consumers to the website with a swipe-up option to find out more. We can expect to see more brands turning to Stories to target audiences with powerful and creative visual content.

Want to make some noise? We’re ready to hear about your next exciting project, campaign, brand launch and more. Get in touch with us today.

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