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How Best to Approach Digital PR during COVID-19

We took a look at how best to approach Digital PR in April 2020 considering the current climate after reviewing both Ben Monro-Davies and Angelica Malin’s videos. 

Key Digital PR approaches: 

  1. Focus on personalisation and relationship building 
  2. Use appropriate tone of voice and messaging
  3. Be wary of piggybacking COVID-19
  4. Encourage clients to adapt and evolve 

Amidst a pandemic such as COVID-19, it can be hard to navigate how best to approach each aspect of the business. A lot is changing on a day-to-day basis across the board and all teams at VROOM Digital are working together to assist our clients, ensuring we are evolving and adapting where necessary. 

One aspect of the business that we have grown as of late, is Digital PR. In Ireland’s current climate, the media now holds more value than ever before. With constant Coronavirus updates being shared online, and consumers stuck at home with more time on their hands, online news traffic has skyrocketed. According to VOX, in recent days, article page views are 50% higher than they were last week. Online traffic is definitely on the rise. 

It is the perfect opportunity for businesses to evolve and create exciting and innovative Digital PR campaigns to drive brand awareness and links back to their website. 

Currently, the media is saturated with news related to COVID-19, and an escape from it all is desired. This is the time for businesses to become creative, newsworthy and to stand out from their competitors. So, we have found ourselves asking; What is the best way to approach Digital PR right now? 

 

FOCUS ON PERSONALISATION & RELATIONSHIP BUILDING

Now, more than ever before, is the time to avoid generic ‘Hi there’ press releases. Working on your relationship with journalists is key during this time. Blind copy emails rarely gain as much traction as personalised emails, and even less so now that the news is saturated with COVID-19 related information. According to Sky News editor, Ben Monro-Davies, journalists are less likely to read emails from people they don’t know right now. Therefore, focusing on the relationships you do have, is important. Ben recommends to ‘focus on the people you knowright now. 

Tips on how to focus on personalisation & relationship building:

  • Address journalists by name – Sounds silly but you’d be surprised how impersonal request emails can become when they all say ‘Hi there’ 
  • Build a rapport with journalists – If it’s an exclusive piece you are sending, let them know 
  • Acknowledge the strange times we are all living in – Do not ignore the fact that COVID-19 has turned everyone’s lives upside down 
  • Ensure what you are sending is relevant – If you are sending out a business piece, send it to business editors. Send relevant information they want to receive 

USE APPROPRIATE TONE OF VOICE & MESSAGING 

Content has changed for journalists since the virus has entered our world. Much of the content they were running two to three weeks ago is no longer in line with what is relevant or expected of them. Angelica Malin, editor-in-chief of About Time Magazine, recently shared that journalists are still trying to figure out what their audience wants to read right now. As a result, tone of voice is important. Ensure the content you are sending out is not so light hearted that it feels as though the seriousness and tragedy of COVID-19 is being ignored. Adding an expert voice into your pieces creates a sense of authority and expertise. Including insight from a practitioner or scholar can be very effective, though be sure to only include where relevant. 

BE WARY OF PIGGYBACKING COVID-19 

Creating news stories that hook onto Coronavirus without directly being linked, can come across as insincere or superficial during this time. Journalists have begun to view some of this content as ‘’clutching at straws’’, and trying to create a news angle out of a worldwide pandemic comes across in the wrong light. If you are sending out COVID-19 related content, Angelica Malin recommends ensuring it is scientifically backed up with hard evidence. Additionally, if a client is benefiting from the virus and usually would not in this way, it is important to be wary of pushing this success out. Looking for a more interesting angle, aside from skyrocketing sales due to the outbreak, is favoured. 

Good examples of COVID-19 Campaigns:

  • Social good – How a business is giving back to the community
  • Adapting in times of crisis – How businesses are making changes and evolving given the circumstances 
  • Slow living – Home related pieces, backed with expert opinion
  • Advice – Pointing consumers in the right direction to receive advice or information related to the crisis 

ENCOURAGE CLIENTS TO ADAPT & EVOLVE 

The landscape of most Irish businesses has changed, in particular, in the past week. It is important to encourage clients to adapt where possible and offer new and innovative products/services to consumers. Focusing on positive news stories and the people behind these businesses is topical and relevant right now. Stories about businesses doing well, helping their employees and adapting to cope with the crisis, are all welcomed by journalists during this time, according to Ben Monro-Davies. We are currently experiencing a return to slow living. Pieces focused on things to do at home such as yoga, gardening and baking, are all becoming more popular. 

Every day, the Irish PR and media landscape is evolving. Communication, innovation and creativity are key during this time. Our team will continue to monitor the situation and make changes to our processes where necessary. Our world is the digital world, and while it may adapt and change as a result of COVID-19, it will continue to thrive. 

 

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