While many in the private sector are busy planning the physical aspects of re-opening their plants, shops and offices, Everything PR sat down with PR veteran Stan Steinreich do discuss the importance of brands reviewing and adapting their marketing and public relations strategies to reach a world left in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Steinreich is the President and CEO of the New Jersey-based Steinreich Communications.
Q: Why is it important for companies to review their Marcom strategies as part of their reopening plans?
A: Things have drastically changed and we are not going back to what we knew as normal. Some 33 million of your customers or donors are out of work. I would estimate at least another 50 million employed Americans are suffering from fewer hours at work or salary reductions imposed during the crisis. Let’s also not forget the large emotional toll the pandemic has taken. Serious illness and death have impacted so many of our families. Simply put, if nearly 1.9 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (which is the estimate as of when this conversation occurred), multiply this by at least 10. The rationale is that each of those diagnosed have a mother, father, sister, brother, child, grandchild, spouse, neighbors, friends. I am probably being conservative, but if we take a multiplier of 10, that means 19 million consumers have closely felt the pain of this deadly disease.
No one comes through a trauma like this unaffected. The 2008 recession led to what we considered unimaginable unemployment numbers that took nearly a decade to wrestle under control. Those numbers were significantly less than the current predicament we find ourselves in. Hence, the central reason every company should review how they are going to market to a world effected by the pandemic- your company, clients, consumers and donors will not come out of this trauma the same as they were only months ago.
Q: What can we learn as PR professionals from the COVID19 pandemic?
A: The COVID-19 crisis has provided us with some good insight into general consumer behavior. If your company or brand is not aligned with where consumers are today, then your message is going to get lost. For example, in retail, people used to shop at both brick-and-mortar stores and an online. But as a result of COVID-19 and changes for the last few months where most people were shopping exclusively online, that’s probably a changed behavior that will stick for the foreseeable future. Brands need to move their messaging away from experiences in stores and focus exclusively on the online shopping experience. In the not-for-profit sector, donors – be they multi-millionaires or just average Joes – have less money to give. While charitable will not completely dry up, it will be more modest for the foreseeable future. Nonprofits should consider this and rejigger their gift levels. People will still want to give, and they want to feel that their giving matters so create levels of giving that are more realistic for where your donors are today.
What we have learned through this crisis is that enterprises that have purpose – hospitals, corporations that donate a portion of sales to not-for-profit, pharmaceutical companies working on COVID-19 solutions, financial companies that extend credit and payment terms, companies that help lower income earners – that is where consumers are investing. Our clients need to adapt to this.
Our job as PR practitioners is to help our clients by creating new technology, which is another key area since more people are spending more time at home and they need better technology to support their new lifestyle.
Q: What can PR professionals immediately implement to help clients best restart their normal operations?
A: We must help our clients by leading the charge to create new messaging that support new business strategies, taking a hard look at our strategic recommendations we are providing and make sure that they meet the consumer at their new mindset and not where they were just a few months. We must also make sure that our strategic recommendations meet new market challenges and then work to implement these new strategies – with a renewed emphasis on showing tangible business results. This is necessary and relevant for all industries. All businesses, no matter their industry, are facing the same predicament – evolve or risk losing your customers and market share.
Stan Steinreich is the president and CEO of Steinreich Communications, a Global Top 50 Public Relations firm. For more information, please visit scompr.com, or to reach the firm, email email@example.com