However, with the necessity of social distancing becoming the norm — rather than the exception — for the foreseeable future, PR professionals need to reimagine how they are going to effectively interact with the public and media to ensure that their clients' messaging reaches the intended target audience.

What will remain the same

The PR industry employs several tactics to disseminate their clients' messaging into the marketplace. These include:
  1. putting together press releases
  2. getting these published in various media outlets, and
  3. hosting events where potential customers, existing clients and influencers can interact with the brand. The purpose of these types of events are to get people talking about the brand and, in so doing, keeping it top of mind.
"Items one and two," says Lisa Scheider, managing director of the Digital School of Marketing, "are quite easy to translate into the digital world as many 'traditional' publications have websites as an addendum to their physical publications. Also, many start-up publications are choosing the digital world first."

There is need to reinvent brand interaction

What PR professionals will need to relook at is how to get their target audience talking about their clients' brand.

"Previously, it was very easy to do so," says Schneider. "All PR firms had to do was to put on an event that would appeal to their audience, introduce them to the brand, give them goodie bags and free food and drinks; the invitees would be all too happy to post on social media about their experiences." 

"However, it's tough to generate this same type of interaction between your brand and customers using digital. This means that PR firms will need to think out of the box in terms of creating the same type of buzz around a brand," adds Schneider.

No business as usual for PR doesn't mean that it is dead

Dr Brené Brown, who is a research professor and has spent the past 20 years studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy, says "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change."

The COVID-19 pandemic has made us all incredibly vulnerable. However, it is from this place of vulnerability that PR professionals will be able to innovate their industry to make it better than it was before.

The Digital School of Marketing is an online provider of accredited digital marketing education, which will allow you to get an edge over your competitors.

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