Keeping Your PR Drumbeat Going in the Age of Coronavirus

Most brands are currently facing unique marketing and PR challenges. For example, brands may be finding it difficult to secure media coverage. Or are facing the need to quickly communicate important messages. Or are dealing with the stress of shrinking marketing budgets.

However, there are many compelling, fast and cost-effective ways that smart consumer brands are keeping their marketing drumbeat going during this difficult time.

Reassurance Outreach to Calm Fear

Consumers do not like uncertainty and are concerned about their health and well-being in the current landscape. Anything that your brand is doing to help make your product or service safer is something to consider integrating into your marketing and PR mix. Call it reassurance marketing.

For example, soon after the COVID-19 pandemic began impacting Americans nationwide, Chipotle was quick to implement and tastefully promote new “tamper-evident” packaging seals on every bag, to help insure that food was staying safe during delivery. This action, combined with the launch of its new, free delivery service and the ability for customers to leave instructions for limiting contact on deliveries, resulted in tremendous positive media attention for the brand.

Similarly, Hertz recently unveiled the “Hertz Gold Standard Clean,” which states: “Before we rent any vehicle, they are cleaned and disinfected to follow CDC guidelines with our 15-point cleaning process. We use our Hertz Total Disinfectant and seal the vehicle for your protection.”

The key? These rollouts were marketed tastefully, in a way that reassured customers without scaring them further.

Help Out with CSR Programs

Customers, especially millennials, have always liked doing business with brands that do good in the world. Now, more than ever, the world needs a hand – so corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are natural fits to garner more of your brand’s marketing spotlight.

For instance, the Domino’s pizza chain unveiled a nationwide TV ad in early April, imploring people who were out-of-work to apply for full- and part-time jobs with the company’s franchise restaurants. This “We’re Hiring” recruitment ad was met positively and, in turn, generated positive press for the brand – in addition to the awareness and recruitment opportunities yielded by the TV spot itself.

Domino’s was far from alone with COVID-related CSR initiatives, as many others stepped up to help. Netflix created a $100 million relief fund, Hellmann’s established a food relief fund, Anheuser-Busch began making and distributing hand sanitizer, and many others began making masks, contributing to funds for small businesses, and much more.

But remember, making an impact is not reserved for the big guys. Their impactful efforts garnered media coverage and went viral as they displayed unity with their neighborhoods (and customers) – particularly in hard-hit cities like New York, Chicago and Detroit. So not only did they do good, they reaped positive attention in return.

Become Part of the Story…Tastefully

Tailor your story and PR pitch to account for COVID-19, where it makes sense editorially AND ethically. If your brand has something to offer – be it expertise or ways your product can best be used in the current pandemic – now is the time to integrate this into your PR outreach. You can become a part of the overall dialogue in a positive way that helps people in their daily lives.

For instance, here at StatePoint Media, we have seen clients integrate their stories into the bigger, timely picture in many helpful ways. Here are some story examples:

  • One brand that offers a parental control app for parents to install on their kids’ devices issued a series of tip-driven stories, focusing on such topics as “Managing Screen Time While Kids Are Home From School” and “How and Why to Keep Kids on a Schedule During School Closures,” among others.
  • One of the nation’s largest consumer credit reporting agencies put out a timely, advice-laden story focusing on “Protecting Your Financial Health in These Uncertain Times.”
  • “How to Manage Stress Through Music” – a story showcasing helpful tips, including those integrating the offerings of a musical instrument brand.
  • We have seen many clients with timely advice and useful products generate stories on such topics as how to make your home’s backyard a destination for family fun, ways to secure assistance for those recently unemployed, tips for finding mortgage relief and avoiding COVID-19 scams, and much, much more.

In today’s trying times, there are many ways to add value to consumers’ lives through useful tips and advice, and to uplift audiences with positive themes. Far from being overtaken by larger world events, thoughtful marketers can harness them to tastefully integrate their messaging while spotlighting relevant products and services.