The COVID-19 crisis has had a profound impact on public relations professionals across the world. Despite the ongoing uncertainty, communications are playing an essential role connecting stakeholders and helping organisations to make sense of their new environments. Messaging and communication have never been more critical to business.

This exclusive Q&A series spotlights the communications professionals behind the organisations working the COVID-19 crisis.

This week features answering the PRCA MENA Q&A series By Louay Al-Samarrai, Managing Director, Active DMC

How has the COVID-19 crisis affected you and your organisation?

Positively in reality – as a team we have really come together at this time and learnt to appreciate each other and the support that we all give each other during this time, business wise we have been fortunate that as one of the longest leading technology and business agencies it is at times like these that technology plays a huge role and our Clients want to show that and promote that where and when relevant, from a services and solutions dynamic it has encourages us to accelerate new service offerings that are and will be relevant now and post this pandemic as the roles and ways in which we interact and work will change irrevocably in some cases. The time to focus on these has really helped us to move these to a stage where they will be online in the next two months

How should businesses communicate with stakeholders during the current crisis? What are the key things to bear in mind?

Honestly and in a way that relevant to what is happening and how people and organizations are dealing with this and being 100% authentic in that. I see media playing an important role in this given that they dictate a lot of the news agenda and what is likely to get traction and what is not and its good to see that they have helped in that way and safeguarded their audiences in what type of content is filtered out.

How can organisations safeguard their reputation during this period?

By being honest and by showing how they are playing their part in the community to ease the situation people and companies find themselves in, delivering solutions that add value and help in the present circumstances and also contribute to safeguarding people and companies at this time

Do you have any thoughts on how organisations ought to communicate with employees during the present crisis?

It’s a difficult time and we can see that its affecting the personnel across almost every industry sector and so its something that everyone is aware of and a situation that leaves people apprehensive about their futures. So being honest, being trasnaprent and straightforward is the best way to go….if the situation demands that sacrifices have to be made then the people affected would rather know that and be able to make plans and focus their efforts on finding other opportunities than being left in a limbo not knowing when the letter or call will come

Do you have any tips on how to protect and promote mental wellbeing amongst staff at this time?

Talking, communicating and being aware and watchful of your team and how they are conveying themselves – today we are very lucky to have tolls like Zoom – which is invaluable in simulating face to face contact and also a way to see how people look and sound that indicates how they are feeling as importantly as what they re doing. Talking and Zoom!

 

In what ways (if any) will this crisis impact the way communications professionals work in the long-term

I really don’t think this will change anything quite honestly. I think that a majority of the agencies in this sector lack any innovative or adaptive thinking outside of delivering media relations and at the same time I don’t see any Clints in this region consistently challenging their Agencies to deliver more extensive or in depth services beyond what they already do. In addition with other types of Agencies offering webinar management and creation, digital and social community management etc Clients “shop around” and fragment their comms versus consolidating budgets and delivering a consistent message to key stakeholders

If you could share any advice with yourself before this crisis began, what would it be?

Move faster on the solutions and services that we were working on and were in the pipeline but kept being pushed back to accommodate other developments and challenges and make the space to be able to focus my time and efforts in the really key areas versus getting too dragged into the day to day…

Setting up a really effective remote working model which many Agencies in the West employ but is sadly hampered by the legal requirement to have an office that carries with it a quota of visas…..

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Active consists of experienced and passionate communication consultants. Active has over seventeen years of experience in running B2B and B2C integrated communications campaigns. Active serve clients from the following industries: Auto, Aviation, Fashion, Finance, Healthcare, Hospitality, Lifestyle, Real Estate, Security, Technology and Telco.

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