Free at last! The excitement was palpable when Sydneysiders and Melbournites were finally released from lockdown last month. Many of us headed back into the office to start planning IRL events and activations again – but if we look at what’s happening in the global community, there’s still a lot of uncertainty for consumers, media, brands and agencies.
As a PR professional, you’re pretty used to adapting, but there are ways you can build a lockdown-proof PR agency to keep your clients happy, and yourself sane.
Consider Consumer Sentiment
It’s always been part of our mandate as PR professionals, but now, more than ever, we need to understand how consumers are feeling after 2 years of turbulence. Are they in the mood to shop? Are they spending more or less time on social media? Are they ready to don their high heels and head out to a glam event or are they feeling some insecurity around venturing outside for the first time in months? Understanding what our ultimate consumers are feeling will help ensure our messages reach their targets and generate the responses we’re looking for. Look at research like the Afterpay’s Lockdown Liberation Study and Australia Post’s eCommerce industry report for some insights, ask your customers on social media or chat with your PR pals to find out what they’re experiencing.
Especially for events. While most people are very excited to transition back to IRL activity after having been in lockdown for so long, some are still wary about events with large numbers of people. There’s also some uncertainty around what might happen should Australia start to see spikes in cases again, which means it pays to have a backup plan. Consider a digital first event that’s paired with an in-home experiential component, like fashion label MacGraw utilised at Sydney Fashion Week earlier this year. Focussing on digital not only means you won’t have to alter your plans at the last minute, but you’ll also have a whole lot of content you can leverage long after the event is over.
Diversify your Customer Base
When Australia went into lockdown earlier this year, countries around the world were opening their doors. Now, as we head into a period of freedom, countries like the UK are seeing increases in COVID cases and potential lockdowns in their future. Diversifying your client base or consumer base makes it a lot easier to weather these storms. In our recent workshop with Bird & Knoll on how to build an international audience for your Australian brand, founder Natalie Knoll talked about the importance of building a following internationally, to help buffer the brand. One of the key lessons from this workshop was that it’s vital to find someone on the ground who can help you navigate international or just foreign to you markets.
Upskill your Team
Now is the perfect time to make sure your team are working smarter and not harder. After a significant period in lockdown, burnout is at an all time high, which means patience for less than meaningful activities is at an all time low. According to some media reports, a great resignation is coming as people have had a chance to assess what they want from their jobs and their careers. One of the ways you can help your team feel more fulfilled is by upskilling them in technology, tools and business practices that make the day-to-day more efficient, and giving them more time to think bigger about their roles and the results they’re generating. There’s a multitude of free or almost free resources for upskilling, think Coursera, Skillshare or Canva’s design training tools. From a tech perspective, look for tools that will cut down on the mundane – like managing an unwieldy spreadsheet for sample tracking.
Double Down on Reporting
PR agencies and departments *really* need to be able to prove their worth, particularly in a time where markets (particularly for fashion and lifestyle brands) are still a little unstable. Being able to demonstrate what you’ve achieved (and not just the number of emails you’ve sent out to editors) means PR can be elevated to the same level as digital marketing as deserving a seat at the table.
Not sure what to report on, or how you could improve your current reporting processes? Check out our article on all the data you could be missing in your business right now.
Make Editors Lives Easier
Think you’re busy? Your favourite editor is *really* under the pump. Shrinking budgets, WFH life, loooooong shipping delays are just part of daily life for those working at publications these days, which means if you can make their lives easier, they’ll love you for it. Cut down on the number of email back-and-forths with a digital press centre that houses all of your digital assets, with links that don’t expire, or allow them to select directly from your digital showroom exactly what they need for that upcoming shoot.
Want to learn more about why media love Flaunter? Check out our case studies here.
Double Down on your Brand Story
There’s never been a more important time to double down on your brand story, which is the key thing that will set you apart from others in your market. Consumers are more savvy than ever before, and their priorities have changed during this time of turbulence. For example, a survey conducted by Deloitte found one in four people moved away from brands that they believed acted in self-interest. Think about your sustainability message, your inclusivity message – and make sure you’re really articulating why your brand matters and why your customers should care. Having a great brand story is consistently what journalists tell us makes the biggest difference to whether you get published, so it makes sense to get it right.
Efficiency is Queen
According to the Professional Associations Research Network, only 11% of the public believe PR professionals are trustworthy, the lowest compared to any other profession – which means we’ve got to work harder to demonstrate our efficiency and value to a business and our clients. One of the best ways to do that is to invest in tools that help you work smarter, not harder, so that you’re able to spend less time on admin work that only serves to bump up your billable hours, and more time on the real, strategic stuff that generates results for your clients or brand.
Go Hyper Targeted
With different areas of the country in different stages of opening and closing, the more targeted you can be with your messaging, the greater your chance of cut through. Communicate to clients and management that thinking small could be the perfect way to win over customers. Take the retail workers who are becoming influencers in their own right, by sharing in a low-fi, authentic way what they love about the products they are seeing on their employers shelves. Customers are desperate for transparency, and going very local in your approach allows for this.
Us PRs are a resilient bunch, and we’ll find new ways to adapt to global changes. Anything you’d add to the list? Reach out to us at email@example.com with your suggestions and we’ll add them to this piece.
IMAGE VIA @ARNSDORF/INSTAGRAM