Covid-19 outbreak impacted every business and sector - in different ways. Particularly, small businesses have faced the deadly brunt of the fallout. 

A survey by the World Bank, with more than 120,000 firms in over 60 countries, states that on average business sales dropped 27 percent in October 2020-January 2021.

In these times of crisis, businesses are looking for ways to communicate to their target audience and reinforce relationships. 

Due to economic collapse, companies like Airbnb have cut down $800 million from their marketing budgets in 2020. Such situations lead brands to redirect their marketing budgets to a cost-effective approach - Public Relations (PR).

What is PR?

Public Relations Society of America PRSA defines “Public relations as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

In other words, PR manages brand reputation by covering positive media and stakeholder information. It helps in maintaining a good relationship with anyone who shows a sign of interest in the brand and the activities surrounding it.

Benefits of PR

PR is to build reputation surrounding a brand and its services; however, it is difficult to measure the outcomes as factors like change in customers’ perception or beliefs are intangible.

PR reaps long-lasting impact and aims for a company’s success over a long period. 

5 Key Benefits of PR

  • Increases Brand Credibility
  • Builds A Competitive Advantage
  • Enhances Customer Relationships
  • Boosts Brand Presence
  • Adds Lasting Value 

PR is an effective tool for businesses to navigate these trying times, create brand awareness, increase credibility, establish strong media relationships and bounce back from the crisis.

5 Effective PR Strategies

Here are the top effective PR strategies startups can apply to scale their business and rise like a phoenix.

1. Put Your Authentic Self Out For Organic PR Outreach

A compelling brand story will get businesses the top media outreach, attract and retain their ideal customers by creating emotional resonance.

Research by Jerome Bruner, a cognitive psychologist, states that stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone.

Share your stories of success and failures - how you transformed your business, set up solutions for needs, pivoted your business, and kept things going through the uncharted territory.

If your brand takes steps to solve global issues, crush the mainstream taboos, and empower staff, don’t hesitate to talk about it. But, make sure to be genuine. 

In March 2020, ConvertKit - creator marketing firm - launched The Creator Fund to aid creators in need during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The announcement moved small businesses and garnered a loyal fanbase and organic PR for ConvertKit.

2. Get Social For Organic PR Outreach

Social media bridges the gap between the public and businesses to strengthen their bond and act as the first line of defense for PR professionals during crisis response in the world driven by the Internet.

Social media is the best way to avert potential PR crises. It helps businesses to identify potential brand threats, prevent and fix any major brand reputation crisis.

Startups can use social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter to catch the attention of the press.

Social media also has a profound influence on journalists’ stories. Every prolific media house is interested in covering the trending and viral content on social media.

Netflix cleverly and meaningfully made use of the current hot topics - the pandemic and social media.  The American content platform and production company giant launched an Instagram Live series to encourage its audience to connect to mental health experts to ask questions and talk about their problems.

This move helped Netflix to improve its brand image and foster customer loyalty.

3. Host Virtual Events For Publicity

Events constitute an irreplaceable PR strategy and are a great way to promote business. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has given rise to the advent of virtual events, which are likely to become a permanent fixture in PR strategies.

A study conducted by Redback Connect reveals that two in three Australian participants now attend six digital events a month, and it is likely to continue even after COVID-19.

Online events have paved the way for startups to initiate engagements and enhance customer experience.

Host an event - speak on the topics you’re knowledgeable about, ask questions, or participate in events, which will help you gain more visibility and earn media coverage.

Adobe Summit 2021, the world’s largest digital experience conference, was a big hit. The grand event brought Abode leaders, technology savants, innovators, entrepreneurs together virtually.  Summit attendees were given a chance to experience league communities, network, and connect with their relevant audience.

SBS Digital Summit, Salesforce’s World Tour Sydney Reimagined, and Google Sheets are some of the successful virtual events of 2020 that startups can take a cue from for conducting digital community and industry events.

4. Partner With Influencers For Effective Reach

The biggest misconception businesses hold is that public relations are just about media coverage. On the bigger picture, public relations is about cultivating lasting relationships based on trust and credibility.

In this age of social media, people trust influencers over celebrities.

Data from MuseFind shows 92 percent of consumers trust an influencer more than a traditional celebrity endorsement..

Startups can reach out to influencers in their niche and connect with bloggers, YouTubers, media outlets, and reporters. 

By effectively integrating influencers in your PR strategy and collaborating with the relevant influencers in the industry, brands can reach a larger audience, promote positive branding, and increase customer engagement.

Ivy Park collaborated with Adidas for a clothing line and unveiled them ahead of the sports apparel launch. Many influencers received clothes from the brand and amplified the campaign by posting them on social media.

The result of this was that the line sold out within an hour of being launched. The best takeaway from this campaign is how the brands collaborate with influencers in their relevant niche and generate the desired results.

5. Tailor Your Brand's Tone To Customer Emotions

Startups must show empathy and resonate with customer values. For this, businesses need to align their PR strategies to fulfill the emotional needs of their audience.

Human behavior has changed through this pandemic and brought people’s emotional needs to the forefront.

Businesses need to showcase comfort, compassion, gratitude, and humor to articulate their brand message.

Nike - an American multinational corporation - took a strong stand against racism by supporting #BlackLivesMatter.

The Footwear manufacturing company announced a $40 million commitment over the next four years to support the Black community.

Customers drift away from brands that always act in self-interest. Brands can use their influence to talk about and support issues that matter to their customers, which will bring them business and PR outreach.

End Points

Startups looking for post-covid-19 business recovery to thrive in their niche need to build solid future-proof tactics. The aforementioned PR strategies are designed to work in the post-pandemic business landscape to help startups get back on their feet.