The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike any other hardship that the world has seen in decades. With 60% of the global population in lockdown, unstable markets and restricted travel; brands globally have been altering their marketing strategies to fit the current narrative and stay relevant. A common question that arises today while deliberating on the way forward is to choose the correct marketing strategy. The Indian audience is now acquainted with various publicity tactics and has developed responses to each of them. Therefore, sensitive times like these require entrepreneurs and business heads to evaluate routes that enhance brand visibility while being non-intrusive and empathetic towards the need of the consumer.
It is an established fact that compelling advertising campaigns have the potential to impact audience behaviour while PR has the ability to build trust and navigate action. Public Relations covers a major chunk of what we refer to as “Earned Media”. A report by a leading research body stated that expert generated content secures 88% more familiarity with target audience as compared to branded content. The report also highlighted that PR is 90% more effective as a strategy to influence a consumer’s decision-making process.
Apart from building credibility, PR is also a more cost-effective way to reach people. Since Public Relations utilises multiple marketing tools such as Press Releases, Interactions, Syndicated Articles, Influencer Outreach, Collaborations and much more – it enables companies to target multiple audience personas in the cost of one. Not only do PR firms aid in communication of brand message, they also create content that would resonate with your audience and yield tangible results.
At this time, both external and internal audiences need to be reminded that the only way to get through this situation is to have faith and there is no better way to do that – other than having credible news sources say that to you. Reports have showcased that the viewership of news since the beginning of the lockdown has gone up substantially. Which further implies that the reliability on journalists to bring forth opinions of key leaders and influencers has also risen. The reason for this change is that PR articles are earned and consumers know that they haven’t been paid for. This enables businesses to garner their trust and establish a long- standing rapport. In a country where business is conducted basis relationships – the right PR strategy can get people to choose one brand over the other just by making the consumer familiar of its value proposition. A simple way of doing that is by having the right visibility across relevant publications.
As the popular saying goes, it is important to market your business when times are good; but it is a necessity to market when times are bad. And, out of sight – out of mind definitely holds true in such times, when audiences can’t access your products or service physically. Therefore, it becomes even more important for brands to invest in PR to ensure maximum visibility across all relevant platforms. Timelines for outdoor events, billboard advertising, and meet and greets have been pushed indefinitely till the pandemic is contained. Owing to this, people are relying on sources that enable them to access information within the comfort of their home. Over the years, PR has evolved into greater avenues going beyond traditional media.
With more time at hand, the Indian audience’s inclination towards digital platforms has increased drastically and its major contributors are searching for news or latest developments online. Having organically garnered press coverage drastically improves the probability for a brand’s visibility when related entities are explored on search engines. This means that indirectly, PR articles have the potential to improve SEO and website ranking for brands.
During these unprecedented times it’s so important to build trust and faith amongst your audience – and that can be done by showing them how responsible and compassionate you are. Third party endorsements highlighting your undertakings as a firm along with necessary steps to ensure the safety of your consumers and employees can go a long way. Focused communication on norms of sanitisation, hygiene, temperature checks of employees, impact of the pandemic on business to humanise the company, and bounce back strategy are all a part of transparency that consumers are looking for. While other avenues might be tempting to explore, investing in PR to enable planned press articles are the most effective and organic way to communicate these aspects.
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