Why digital PR can be your greatest asset after lockdown

Newsline’s Rachel Fenning on making the most of the ‘new normal’. 

We have learnt a lot of things throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve learnt how much we value our gardens, churches have learnt how to live stream Sunday services, while businesses have learnt the importance of digital marketing.

In the blink of an eye, high street footfall became non-existent, restaurants closed their doors and beauty salons were hanging up their scissors.

With everyone isolated in their homes, the online world was the only bit of escapism many of us had – and the only lifeline for UK businesses.

Social media became our main source of information, the place where customers went to learn about what their suppliers and stakeholders were doing.

Overnight, businesses which relied upon face-to-face interaction suddenly had to show personality behind a screen.

While this may have been daunting to begin with, by taking to social media businesses realised they were no longer limited to who walked in the door but to all those who had an online presence.

In many parts of the UK, lockdown is lifting, however, this new way of doing business is not. People have become accustomed to the ‘online norm’ of making business deals, of meeting over Zoom or hosting online webinars.

The 24/7 updates and constant communication is no longer an extra, it’s an expectation. Therefore, if businesses want to thrive and keep up with ever-growing customer expectations, they need to invest in a strong digital PR plan.

A successful digital PR plan can help in many ways, however, below we outline just two key areas…

Customer communication

A good digital PR campaign will be designed to reach both potential and existing customers through utilising different platforms.

Through social media, e-mailshots, blogs and your website, everyone should be able to learn about your opening hours, changes you’ve made for social distancing, news stories and how to get in touch. Save time by actively sharing your news online, rather than responding to email questions and phone calls.

If you’re part of a company which already does this but is still not gaining the traction you desire, take a look at the quality of your content. Underestimating the value in high-quality content, images and videos can be a firm’s biggest error. With such a saturated online market, businesses who do not spend the time curating high-quality content will get lost in a sea of those who do.

Staff communication

A business is nothing without its staff, therefore communicating effectively is vital to keeping them feeling valued and understood. Businesses need to acknowledge the challenges that have been and are yet to come, as well as make sure they feel like any issues are dealt with professionally.

Staying in regular conversation with staff to let them know what the business is doing to help them work safely during social distancing is key, whether done via a Facebook group or e-newsletter.

During this unsettled period, it is crucial for management teams and CEOs to be visible and understanding of employee needs.

Again, this could be done via a foreword in an e-newsletter, a webinar where staff can log in and ask any questions they may have, or even a social media ‘takeover’ to share updates and give tours of the ‘new normal’.

With such drastic changes to the way businesses now work, we advise re-working budgets to ensure your business is investing in its future.

As a PR agency, the biggest downfall we see businesses make is thinking too short term. While the cost may be a fraction higher for a digitally integrated campaign, the benefits will reap for far longer.