As we (hopefully) begin to move toward a state of normal, the idea of adding and tacking more ideas into a public relations plan this year simply feels overwhelming. So instead of talking trends for 2021, let’s talk best public relations practices and how to manage them in this ever-evolving COVID-19 era.
Remain nimble/flexible with a plan
What is your public relations plan for the year? It’s important to have one in place and to continue moving forward. The will change as the country and world reopen. For example, currently there are no face to face meetings, conferences, office exchanges. By third quarter that can and most likely will change. That’s going to change how we communicate.
Keep it simple
A Forbes article from January ranks this #1. I 110% agree. Simplicity is the essence of good taste. The essence of any public relations plan is keeping it simple, easy and manageable. The age of digital has created the perception that PR is a complex system that feels hard to navigate. It doesn’t have to be hard if you don’t it that way.
What are three things you want to do this year and how will goals be accountable? I say three because I truly believe focusing well on a few initiatives at one time is the best way to succeed. Perhaps your website hasn’t been updated to work for your business in years. Think about the steps and time involved to make that right in a year’s time. Consider what you want that website to do for your business and how it will be measured (the goal).
Know your audience
Most business owners and leaders know their audience: internally employees, externally prospects, customers and so on. Right now, it’s critically important to think like your audience is thinking. If you’re running a global business, consider this. A McKinsey study shows people around the world have very different mindsets related to returning to “normal” activities. Here’s the contrast among those who reported, “I’m already doing them:”
- 81% in China
- 36% in America
- 18% in Mexico
Qualitatively speaking, during a recent local business meeting the group was asked if they wanted to move Zoom meetings to in person in spring. The business professionals preferred to stay online not just for the sake of their health, but they’ve discovered the time earned back in their day, which is resulting from less travel to and from meetings, is important to them.
Know the message
If your company doesn’t have a document that outlines the message, you should. We consider this document similar to logo colors and use. The message is part of your brand standard guidelines. Review it with this lens:
- An Ernst & Young survey shows that 59% of surveyed consumers are more likely to shop locally in the long term. Is your business local or selling local goods? Should it be in the message?
- A Consumer Index Report by Suzy Consumer Insights shares that 65% of consumers are more likely to support a brand that cares about the same social issues they do. What’s your community relations program and do you share it?
Know your tactics
Externally study after study shows it takes a person four to seven times to hear from you to recognize and remember your business. What are those four to seven tactics? Tactics include (but are not limited to) social media, media relations, business conferences, websites, SEO, PPC, speaking engagements and on and one. Think about how they could change in 2021. For example, sending a mailer to a business right now probably isn’t effective since most office workers and leaders are at home working. Yet sending that mailer in 4Q might be a great idea.
Consider how the message gets communicated within the workplace or at home offices. Employees trust their managers. Are managers prepared to continue sharing critical company news as the year unfolds? Are they trained to deliver the message, and more importantly do they know the message?
We’ve been remote and socializing virtually for a year. Sometimes an email, text or Zoom could just be a phone call. Sometimes a fancy email can become a simple note to just check in on each other. Being genuine right now goes a long way.
Share your public relations plan
Working remotely sometimes means we inadvertently skip critical steps, including sharing information with the right people. Remember to share your public relations plan with the professionals in your workplace who need to know. For example, public relations can impact the sales team generating leads. Does the director of sales know the plan and buy into it?