Overcoming PR Challenges in The Wake of The Coronavirus Pandemic 

The COVID-19 pandemic has obstructed the performance and revenue of businesses in every industry, and public relations firms are not spared from the ongoing crisis. 

Like any other industry, PR agencies are seeing a variety of challenges created by the pandemic, as evidenced in “The State of PR 2020” from Muck Rack, which surveyed a range of PR and communications organizations ranging in size from one person to more than 10,000 staff and varying in scope of brand agencies to crisis communications firms to nonprofit organizations.

According to the report, 54 percent of firms said the biggest challenges during the pandemic is the loss in clients and business revenue, with 44 percent stating that the pandemic will significantly affect their budgeting – although 38 percent said it’s too soon to say. 

The loss of clients and constraints placed on communications budgets shouldn’t be a surprise. A variety of businesses and other organizations across all industries have had to close their doors, layoff or furlough staff, and see declines in customers sales or donor support. Their declines in revenues is bound to hit PR, advertising and marketing budgets – if it hasn’t already. 

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said that the next biggest challenged was securing coverage in the “new news cycle.” 

This also just happens to tie into the third biggest obstacle firms are facing – 43 percent of survey participants said they are having difficulty finding relevant angles for pitches. 

With most news coverage being tied directly to the impact of COVID-19 in every beat you can imagine, these two challenges could be expected. If a firm’s clients do not connect with the current news cycle surrounding the virus, it could be difficult garnering a reporter’s attention for a story. 

And although these are significant hurdles to overcome, Muck Rack’s report provides some insight on how PR firms can still succeed with client and brand development in the era of the coronavirus.

Muck Rack also included input from reporters based on The State of Journalism 2020 and following their preferences for receiving media pitches could be a benefit to getting clients in news headlines during quarantine:

  • If you want to contact a reporter, 93% of journalists said that Individual, 1:1 emails are the best way to pitch them; 
  • Because 48% of journalists receive one to five pitches a day, and 43% receive five or more; 
  • And although 45 percent of PR folk like to send pitches on Tuesday, the majority of journalist (20%), said Monday the preferred day to receive them; 
  • In addition, 64 percent of media said pitching them in the morning is best; and 
  • If you want to follow-up on a media pitch, 83 percent of journalist say to do so within a week of the first email.

With a timeline of when media and communications may return to normal so uncertain, these challenges could persist for some time, possibly even for some time post-pandemic. But following these preferences from the media, even with budgetary limitations, could be a way to achieve some client success during a very challenging time.  

 

For additional information on communications practices and planning during the coronavirus, please visit Xenophon’s COVID-19 Crisis Response Team webpage at: https://xenophonstrategies.com/covid-19-response.

Getting Back to Work is an ongoing series on health and safety regarding COVID-19 from Xenophon Strategies, in partnership with Dr. David Hamer, a professor at the Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine with more than 30 years of experience in epidemiological diseases. Through the partnership Xenophon is working with Dr. Hamer to provide science-based recommendations and guidance on how employers, employees, and families should best respond to and combat the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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