The latest edition of Vogue has created a positive stir in the media by paying homage to the dedicated and brave key workers fighting the pandemic. Importantly, bringing them front and centre of three front covers to feature Rachel Millar, a community midwife, Narguis Horsford, a train driver and Anisa Omar, a supermarket worker.
The powerful images struck me. Lives so far removed from the glamour usually associated with glossy magazine covers. The reality hit. We live in a different world right now, and it’s no longer business as usual.
Take a look at Vogue’s content, and the message that they are in solidarity with the rest of the world stands. Articles on ways to be more productive at home, or how to make the most of mornings in lockdown grace the pages of the magazine - better known for its take on high end fashion. The media landscape has changed, and so must we.
As a PR professional, Vogue’s stance reminded me that we need to align our messaging with what’s going on in the world and provide useful content for everyone experiencing the new normal.
We have to ask ourselves are we doing enough to represent our brands responsibly? If your next campaign could help those struggling during the pandemic, it should but, importantly we can’t be tone deaf. It’s a delicate balance in providing newsworthy, helpful content and using the situation to push your brand. Somehow, we have to sensibly navigate our way into a journalists inbox.
According to research from journalist, copywriter and editor, Suzanne Bearne, editors and journalists from titles including the Guardian, the BBC, the i, the Evening Standard, The Telegraph and many other industry titles are getting frustrated with pitches trying to find some connection to the virus.
If you want to include COVID messaging, only mention it if there is a genuine and compelling link and then, it must be done sensitively and with purpose. Will your story help others during this time? Will your research shine a light on the current crisis? If not, Suzanne reminds us “it’s not a great way to build relationships and it could have a long-lasting impact on you or your brand”.
A quick google search and a look across some content tools also reveals some of the topics that are doing well during the pandemic:
• Home tech
• Productivity and working from home
• Wellness tips
• Giving and donations
• Coping with loneliness and stress
• Interview and professional profile tips
• Online entertainment
• Recipe ideas
• Exercise routines
• Ways to save money
• Relationship advice
Our recent work for rehab facility, Delamere, helped to highlight the issue of addiction during the pandemic. As a voice of authority, alongside creating area specific guides and reports on addiction they were able to draw on the experiences of their brand ambassadors to share their stories.
Here, we repurposed a feature on brand ambassador, Gary Charles and his struggle with addiction with concerns on his fears for people battling addiction during the crisis. His story was featured in the Times, along with regional press, sensibly tackling an ongoing issue.
Of course, this PR campaign was hard-hitting, but some of the trending topics above require a much more light-hearted approach. Many of your campaign ideas will already have a natural link to some of the talking points and help you receive more relevant and recent coverage.
But, as we have been reminded, journalists still want high quality news and feature pitches. We all still have an appetite for news that will cheer us up, educate us or provide some escapism. As long as we don’t lose touch with our PR principles we can continue to contribute to the news cycle with purpose.
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