TOPIC: PR insights during COVID-19 and what we can predict for the industry’s future.
INTERVIEWEE: Jarryd Pentony
1. Do you believe the PR industry will come out stronger as a result of COVID-19? What are your predictions?
To speak to the lifestyle areas we work in, it’s hard to say… I’m predicting some areas will come out stronger than others. For example, I’d expect the travel, events, arts and entertainment industries to be very PR-able once we’re able to get back out and enjoy interstate/international travel, festivals, concerts, sports, night markets, etc. once again. COVID-19 restrictions, especially the revert to stage three restrictions we’ve seen in Melbourne (the food, culture and sporting capital of Australia), will only make consumers more hungry to seek out experiences when it’s safe to do so.
I think things are going to be interesting in food. Pre-COVID, I felt we’d reached such an exuberant level of ridiculousness around what made ‘news’ in the food and hospitality world. Everyone was trying to outdo one another and I think it was getting tiresome. Re: dining out, I believe there’ll be a shift back to the simple – unpretentious menus (but still delicious) combined with chefs/venues that have a great story to tell. I expect these are the stories that will cut through in an even more concentrated food media environment.
As for fashion, well let’s just say COVID has given fashion PR and media a BIG kick in the (excellently tailored, of course) pants. I think we’ll see one of the biggest shifts happen in fashion PR with less emphasis and time spent on traditional media relations and even more on engaging with on-brand social publishers for bespoke content curation and amplification.
2. What makes a successful PR campaign during COVID-19?
Easy – flexibility and adaptability. The campaign – encompassing the strategy as well as the product/brand/venue/service/
event/etc. that is being publicised itself – needs to be able to shift to anything COVID throws at us. We’ve actually seen some of our most successful PR campaigns and media exposure take place over the last 3-4 months; everything from getting a virtual wine festival on a TV news bulletin to major pic-opp stories in a number of metro daily newspapers, and online features. The one other thing that has to be flexible is you – doing whatever is needed to get the story across the line… even if it means having to purchase five cheese and spinach boreks to satisfy the Channel 7 crew! 😉
3. How do you go about understanding the media landscape during COVID-19?
The past few months have sometimes felt like a wild goose chase. I remember I pitched a story to an editor, got an out-of-office reply and an instruction to send it to another journalist. I then pitched and got two more out-of-offices before finally getting onto the person who was currently editing the publication. I think the important thing to remember is that COVID has provided a unique environment for us all to work in. Understand that people may not be working certain days, some may have lost a job, others might now be doing the job of two or three people, so make your communications matter. Think smart. Research well. Write succinctly. Pitch a story that matters.
4. How could a business benefit from implementing a PR strategy post COVID-19?
There are going to be many brands, businesses and companies needing to tell their story and recover once we get out of COVID times, and they are all going to need bespoke, expertly engineered (but flexible) PR strategies. The biggest benefit any business will get out of implementing a PR strategy post-COVID is a much-needed increase in general awareness as people emerge and discover new things again. If your proposition is PR-able, aiming for ongoing earned media coverage in the months and years to come, to continue to keep the brand relevant, top-of-mind and credible, will go a long way to rebuilding your business in a cost effective way. It’s a no-brainer!