The centrality of PR & communications post COVID

COVID-19 has left businesses in a state of upheaval, with misinformation triggering panic, social distancing and isolation creating stress, and the constant fear of job losses and uncertainty around business continuity. Amongst all this chaos, PR and communication has emerged stronger. Not only has it kept the show going, but also provided various opportunities for the post COVID world. One wouldn’t be wrong to say that the future of businesses, amidst the effects of this global pandemic lie in the hands of communicators.

Three-fold role

As organisations come to realise the importance of a purposeful messaging, PR and communications would play a vital role in crafting the right messaging – where brand building and organisational milestones take a back seat – and delivering this messaging to the consumer through the right platforms.

The PR and communication community are in for a major change once this epidemic is dealt with. The central role that PR and communicators will play in a post COVID-19 world would be three-fold. Primary role would be that of a guide, that directs the brands on their role in supporting communities through several initiatives and communications. Second, would be that of providing clear and purposeful communication across all stakeholders – internal & external – to create an impact on the community, encourage them and maintain engagement. The third role would that of a protector of the brand’s and company’s reputation, through consistent, meaningful and powerful communication.

Business as usual challenges

Although the challenging circumstances would continue to give a tough time to organisations in pursuing business as usual, but it would also pave the way for innovative ideas. Globalisation has spread teams all across the world, and technology has enabled them to stay connected anywhere and anytime. These new-age communication tools and services have facilitated organisations and brands to connect with their employees as well as consumers remotely, even with all the restrictions around. And remote working communication professionals are leveraging these platforms to conduct regular meetings, with catch-ups happening over collaboration apps.

The outbreak of the virus witnessed the cancellation of major trade events, press conferences and even experiential engagement with customers. However, companies are pushing the envelope and finding solutions to conduct regular operations, which include implementing both traditional and new-age approach. Communicators and PR professionals are leveraging common practices such as telephonic media interaction to ensure the brand gets to put their two-cents in. Virtual media conferencing is also witnessing a surge and is quickly becoming a viable alternative for briefing the press. And even though the scale of the event might be coming down, the delivery of messaging has been consistent with this targeted approach. Each of these practices are well-suited at a time when mainstream media houses have decided to stop the circulation of print copies and opted for online channels and also in line with the coming months as we recover from the after effects.

PR and communications play a pivotal role in the success or failure of these strategies and tactics and must be considered an extended arm of the organisation. The collective effort of the organisation in conjunction with the communicators and PR professionals have ensured that significant and demonstrable results are yielded in terms of capacity building, through upskilling, training and implementing the best practice.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Radha Radhakrishnan
Radha Radhakrishnan has over 25 years of experience in corporate communications and marketing across different industries and geographies. She has built a reputation as a storyteller and a creative thinker. She has mentored social entrepreneurial startups and has been a visiting faculty at premier communications institutes in India. She is currently the global head of corporate communications at Wipro Enterprises. She anchors the weekly PR and Communication podcast, Mrigashira.

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