While the COVID-19 pandemic is moving in a positive direction in some areas, it continues to have far-reaching impacts beyond the spread of the virus itself and is still altering day-to-day realities for individuals and families across the globe. The same holds true for health care communicators, as we continue to face unique challenges—and opportunities—in the face of this global crisis.
While making sense of the latest COVID-19 information can be a daunting task for even the most experienced communicator, the pandemic has underscored the importance of executing a timely and informed media relations strategy to help deliver clear and consistent messages to a variety of audiences. For PR pros, this largely means getting back to basics:
Nurture Effective Communication
Ongoing communication is a critical component of responding to a crisis. Now more than ever, proactive, informed, and quick correspondence help position an organization or media contact as a go-to resource for journalists, the public and stakeholders alike.
Relatedly, it’s vital for communicators to keep the pulse on current and unfolding events and understand how they can contribute to the conversation, all while being mindful of a journalist’s beat or interest areas. Serving as a trusted source of information through the twists and turns of the pandemic can help solidify relationships with key contacts and audiences and allow you to inject your expertise in ongoing coverage. At Reservoir, we understand this important dynamic well, enabling us to keep regular contact with a robust portfolio of journalists on behalf of clients.
Prepare Your Messenger
Let’s not forget the important role of spokespeople and subject matter experts, who have been in high demand amid a never-ending news cycle. With the help of Zoom and other virtual technologies, it’s easier than ever to conduct media interviews or briefings. Tactics like a satellite media tour, which help amplify key messages to a broad or targeted consumer audience, can be done virtually, saving your spokespeople a trip to a broadcast studio. Since it’s a lot easier to quickly engage with media, it’s important to ensure your organization’s spokespeople are continually prepared to share their perspective.
Understand Your Audience
With so much information (and misinformation) swirling, it’s vital to always keep your audience in mind and how they can best hear/see and digest both simple and complex messages. Consider what might be on their minds, distill what they need to know and understand the best ways of reaching them whether through the local paper, a specific social media outlet or a trusted broadcast source. With the internet taking on an even more prominent role in the lives of Americans during COVID-19, it’s necessary to think through alternative ways to reach your targets.
Of course, it never hurts to integrate creative thinking to a media plan. At Reservoir, we specialize in drawing on new ways to help weave complex elements into cohesive and compelling narratives that reach target audiences. For example, we like to think about issues from all sides, find common ground and connect with health care influencers, who may on the surface sometimes seem like unlikely or atypical allies. These partnerships result in respected influencers engaging in our work, allowing our clients to tap into unique audiences while driving greater visibility for their causes. It can’t hurt to think big.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to throw curveballs. By getting back to the basics, health care communicators are well equipped to share helpful perspectives that better inform their audiences so they can make sense of the moment.