Rethinking communications in the Age of Covid-19 – by Abdullah Inayat

By Abdullah Inayat, co-founder and media relations director at W7Worldwide

Are traditional PR and media relations methods still relevant during and post COVID-19? Or do companies need new communications strategies to help them achieve their objectives in a world largely transformed by the pandemic? In my personal and professional opinion, the answer to these questions should be the primary focus of communications experts everywhere, especially as the global coronavirus outbreak has brought a fundamental change in the ways companies communicate with stakeholders and customers.

COVID-19 has completely transformed the way we conduct business. From communicating with clients over Zoom, or other similar applications, to sharing on information on exclusive neighborhood WhatsApp groups, digital platforms have become the only way for many of us to work, learn, or be entertained. These changes have happened across all fields, including media outlets, where many journalists and editors are working from home. Many print publications have completely halted the production of any print copies, instead shifting to online issues and social media platforms.

This unprecedented situation comes with its own challenges. One of them is the conducting of media and public relations, which requires an immediate overall change in strategy to adapt to the other changes taking place all around us. What is required of us is to abandon the traditional PR and media path that we followed before COVID-19 and move toward creating innovative opportunities inspired by the new reality in order to achieve business continuity and success, and strengthen the brand’s presence in the market.

Communications should be one of the most important areas of focus for any company during this period. To help companies and organizations navigate the media landscape in the COVID-19 era, W7Worldwide released a 7-step guide to creating the right media relations strategy for the post-lockdown phase of the pandemic. Some of the most important steps listed in the guide include: Conducting a media audit to gain a better understanding of the market and the target audience, staying abreast with the COVID-19 news cycle, and demonstrating corporate citizenship. The guide also highlighted the importance of responsive thought leadership that is willing to reach out to media outlets with educational insights, industry perspectives and informed market predictions, which will help boost the brand’s corporate image and reputation in the market.

Every crisis contains within it the seeds of opportunity. Additionally, every crisis will give rise to winners and losers. Those that will emerge from the COVID-19 crisis as winners will be the companies who learn how to coexist with the various stages of the pandemic and make use of well-established communications strategies. In short, this crisis is testing the strengths and weaknesses of companies and it will require tremendous efforts for them to build and maintain the trust of their stakeholders and customers alike.

Organizations must keep in mind that any delay in adopting new and unconventional media communications strategies might result in heavy losses as well as a loss of a portion of their market share to competitors who are better able to handle this pandemic-induced transition period.W7