Getting the balance right is absolutely vital. Should you speak up, or do you keep your head down?
Putting your head above the parapet risks getting shot down when the “blame culture” still surrounding the Coronavirus Pandemic is rife.
However, if you have something compelling to say – for national, local, or trade media, now may be a good time to say it.
In “peace time”, we have always argued the need for Proactive PR to balance out the bad news and show your audience you are doing more than simply “fire-fighting” all the time.
Yes, it is a question of resources. A typical hospital in the UK may have around 5000 staff, but the Communications Team may be less than five. In that case you may be compelled to place all your resources towards fire-fighting – just to keep your head above water.
Back in the day, Primary Care Trusts, did have more resources and were not in the firing line as such because they were not “front line”. They could and did allocate resources to Proactive PR, especially around issues such as Public Health (now with Local Authorities) and they were successful at it.
In terms of Proactive PR during a pandemic, our advice is to avoid anything which could be considered “frivolous” or “irrelevant”, especially to the national media. For instance, The United Nations are running a campaign around “Gender neutral language” and the response from commentators is “Really? Now?”.
On the other hand, both the national and local media are getting “battle fatigue” with bad news around Coronavirus.
Surprisingly, there is an appetite for good news, but it needs to be Coronavirus related – to fit the News Agenda.
The best examples are – “NHS Heroes” and the Army veteran Captain, Tom Moore, who has raised a huge amount of money, by walking up and down his garden.
Again, peace time rules do apply. The media want “stories” which are topical, relevant and preferably with a huge smattering of human interest.
Be obvious, provide your local (and possibly the national) media with positive, case study led, human interest stories linked to the Pandemic. But avoid the frivolous, irrelevant and PR for its own sake.