In response to the vast rise in internet and social media usage during the COVID-19 pandemic, W7Worldwide marketing communications consultancy agency sets out a 7-step guide to help companies create an effective Digital PR strategy for the post lockdown phase of the coronavirus crisis. Online conversations and media consumption across all generations are at an all-time high and brands must respond to this new behaviour with their post lockdown digital PR and communications strategies (Click Here to Read Full Report).
There has been a notable surge in people spending time online to stay connected and informed of the latest news and guidelines during the COVID-19 lockdown phase. According to the Global Web Index, 45% of consumers have been on social media more during COVID-19, particularly in countries hardest hit by the virus. Businesses urgently need to hit the ground running again post lockdown after many paused their 2020 digital PR campaigns because nobody knew how the crisis would unfold. However, now is the time to re-evaluate and implement the right digital activities that will set an organization up for the return to business and future success.
‘The pandemic has forever transformed the way we live, socialize, work, and do business. As the world is changing its behavior and innovates, so too must brands.’ says Abdulrahman Inayat, Co-Founder of W7Worldwide. ‘Companies need to plan for the post COVID-19 future, updating their PR and Communications strategies accordingly to connect with customers and the public in new ways. This is the perfect opportunity for businesses to take note of the changing digital landscape to create innovative Digital PR campaigns that drive brand awareness and ultimately win new customers.’
W7Worldwide recommends that companies take 7 essential steps to build their COVID-19 Post Lockdown Digital PR strategy:
1. Develop Short-term Strategies – Focus on short-term goals linked to immediate business priorities. Take small steps and focus on engagement rather than links for the moment.
2. Review Social Media Posting Schedules – Try posting at different times during the day and evaluate results with social media analytics. Post in real time and look for content gaps others aren’t filling.
3. Adjust the Tone of Voice – Adjust the tone of voice to public sentiment and the economic climate. Empathy is critical at a time when people still feel uncertain and concerned about the future.
4. Act Local – Every country and region will open at different rates; what people can do will not be the same everywhere. For communicators, this means thinking and acting hyper local when it comes to digital PR and marketing.
5. Rebut Fake News and Misinformation – Media monitoring should be essential to any digital PR and COVID-19 crisis management programme. Monitor online mentions of the brand or organization associated with COVID-19 and immediately expose misinformation.
6. Focus on Thought Leadership – One of the most effective ways to stay in the public eye is with thought leadership. Right now, journalists and the public want to know how businesses are dealing with the challenges of COVID-19 and how they are managing their way out of lockdown.
7. Prepare a Recovery Strategy – Digital PR is integral to maintaining brand reputation and SEO health. Without links, coverage and mentions, any Digital PR programme will lose momentum. The long-term strategy needs to be readiness, so use this time to do research and plan ahead.
A recent survey of Communications Professionals conducted by W7Worldwide found that participants consider preparing a Recovery Strategy as their current number one priority. This is the case with both the Arabic (53.4%) and English (37.4%) sample. Adapting to public sentiment is considered equally important by both Arabic and English survey participants (18.4% English/ 18.1% Arabic). Notably English participants (22.1%) are placing greater importance on localization by comparison to their Arabic colleagues (8.3%).
Planning into an uncertain future is challenging, but it offers many opportunities for those who are smart about maximizing the growth of digital PR to future-proof their business and brand. A key factor in resilience is to understand how much COVID-19 will reshape consumer behaviors in the future. In the coming months, there will be a lot less face-to-face interaction when doing business and companies need to maximize their digital PR efforts to introduce their brand and foster loyal relationships.