Like people in most industries, communication professionals found their lives turned upside down in March 2020. We were in a constant state of unknown as information about the COVID-19 pandemic continued to evolve and lawmakers kept shifting policies. We helped clients shape messages and inform stakeholders of organizational updates every time a new decision was made. And there were A LOT of new decisions as we were all metaphorically driving blind during this uncertain time, from schools shifting to virtual classes to restaurants serving curbside to entertainment organizations canceling series of events and performances.
I found myself in this constant state of executing reactionary communication tactics with the mindset that everything was “just temporary,” and I’m sure it’s safe to say I was not the only one thinking this way. Fast forward two years later, we are closer to “normalcy,” but we need to accept the fact that we can’t go back to exactly how things were in 2019. Even though COVID-19 is still living among us, it’s time for communicators to step out of this reactionary mindset in hopes that things will go back to normal. Instead, we should look to proactive efforts that can help organizations reconnect with target audiences and return to accomplishing their missions. Here are some ways.
Reevaluate what your stakeholders want.
People’s priorities have shifted in the past two years. Inflation is making it tougher to afford even the most basic, everyday commodities. Workers are recognizing the importance of mental health. Consumers are beginning to take notice of organizations’ stance on social issues and ethical standards before supporting it.
Find out what matters most to your key targets and explore how your organization can authentically resonate with them. You don’t have to change your entire business model, but look closely to understand what they really want. This will help shape your messaging to connect with them on a more personal level. It’s called public relations for a reason!
Determine new goals.
Now that you’ve moved past making decisions in response to shifts during the pandemic, it’s time to start looking forward. If you really think about it, your 2019 communication goals are likely not the same as today. You may have previously focused on building organizational awareness. You may find that you have the awareness you want, but your audiences may often confuse your organization with a competitor. Reassess your goals. That may mean reinforcing your reputation as a thought leader in your industry or fostering trust and loyalty among those who know your brand. Your new goals will drive fresh strategies and tactics.
Explore new ways to share your message.
People’s means of consuming information have changed in the past two years. You may have found yourself in a rut of unsuccessfully channeling your message to target audiences. Find out where they are and rethink your tactics. That may mean dabbling in a new social media platform, creating partnerships with like-minded organizations or hosting a special event. It’s no surprise that people have lost connection with others during this time. All they need is a little reminder that you’re still here and ready to serve them.
As the pandemic wanes, now is more important than ever to snap yourself out of survival mode. Take a moment to explore what’s important to your stakeholders today, what are your new organizational goals and what are new channels to reach your stakeholders. After some reflection, you’ll be ready to build and execute a strategy that’s proactive and intentional.