What’s on the mind of PR pros right now

April 1, 2020 Rebecca Dersh

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a webinar hosted by PR Couture, a resource and blog for PR and marketing professionals. It’s founder, Crosby Noricks, and I had an open conversation on how to navigate comms strategies in times of uncertainty. We were joined by about 100 attendees who asked a range of questions about managing their PR efforts during the COVID-19 crisis.  

Here are the key takeaways from the conversation: 

Keep pitching 

In an effort to ensure sensitivity, many publicists are concerned about pitching reporters right now. But reporters still need stories. While their assignments and focus has likely changed since the COVID-19 outbreak, there’s no reason for you to stop communication completely. See if there’s anything you can help them with during this stressful time, or provide pitch angles more relevant to what’s in the news. It's about adjusting your messaging appropriately based on their latest coverage, not stopping outreach completely.  

Do your research  

Now more than ever, it’s crucial to look over what kinds of stories are being written by the reporters you’re pitching. How has their own messaging shifted and how many of their stories are now related to COVID-19? What has changed and what has remained the same? Where do you see your brand fitting into their latest stories?   

Shift your messaging 

Once you have a sense of what your target publications and journalists are covering, you can shift your pitch angles accordingly. Consider what type of content would be interesting to your target audience and key publications based on what you’re seeing online at the moment. Sometimes that might mean putting certain stories on hold. It also might mean repositioning your previous strategy so that you’re still telling your brand’s story, but perhaps in a more relevant way.  

Speak up 

Right now leadership teams are leaning on PR pros for guidance, whether it’s to move forward with a product launch or how to communicate sensitively with customers. You’re the expert, especially when it comes to managing crises, so it's crucial you speak up. If something feels wrong to you, it likely is. But when reporting your concerns, be sure to speak in the language of the C-suite. Ask yourself questions like how will your recommendation impact overall business objectives? 

Be sensitive 

Whatever it is you’re working on, be sensitive. It’s a complicated time for everyone, and that shouldn’t be ignored when we’re going about our day-to-day. We are in uncharted territory, and everyone is figuring this out as we go, so be patient and accommodating. Over-communicate with your teams, be thoughtful and helpful when pitching reporters, and more than anything, prioritize health and safety over everything.  

About the Author

Rebecca Dersh

Rebecca Dersh is the Public Relations Manager for Cision, where she manages earned media. She previously worked at agencies Konnect and Wolff Olins, where she managed marketing and PR for a variety of clients in industries ranging from non-profit to tech. Find her on Twitter for all things tech and PR

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