During this unprecedented time, a much-needed webinar was led by agency president Stefan Pollack this past Tuesday, in which he shared his thoughts and experience on the need for adopting quickly to the changed market environment due to the coronavirus pandemic. The webinar was hosted by the Los Angeles chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA-LA).
According to Pollack, “Over the course of a month, we’ve seen day-to-day communication quickly change internally and externally with clients. New channels of communication are opening up, CEOs are looking at different parts of their business, and clients are looking for more things to do. In virtual offices, it is easy to fall into a silo, but we make it part of our daily process to call and meet with colleagues throughout the day and to use video whenever possible.” Added Pollack, “We've found our clients to be far more communicative than before, so we make sure we are responsive and present whenever they reach out.”
As clients look for more opportunities to reach a wider audience, The Pollack Group advises clients to communicate in ways in which they are helpful and useful to their customers. Especially so, when brands have a particular area of expertise and are communicating information people need during this time – as long as it’s within a client’s wheelhouse – it can be an excellent resource.
On the topic of communicating with journalists, Pollack advised that they understand we have a job to do and have been very patient. It is important to keep in mind that a story has three phases: mirror, picture and window. Right now, we are starting to be in the picture phase and will start working toward the window phase. Said Pollack, “Journalists are clearly more receptive to hearing COVID-related stories at this time. However, as we are a resource to journalists for their stories, we must also prioritize doing the right thing, as opposed to seeking credit,” said Pollack.
This time has been especially difficult for people and agencies who have had to pause work indefinitely. For the short-term, Pollack recommends utilizing networks to see how to help other agencies that might be running faster than normal. “Most brands haven’t planned long-term for post-COVID,” according to Pollack. “If you can plan ahead for post-COVID, you’ll be better off.”
In closing, Pollack stated that the agency is cautiously optimistic about the fall and will continue to reassess it, on an ongoing basis. Whenever possible, Pollack recommends that clients move their events online, even if they are happening over the summer. These next 60 days present an opportunity to hone messaging, determine post-COVID-19 plans, and redefine brand positioning.
Here are eight takeaways for agencies to note when working during the coronavirus crisis:
1. Establish a secure cloud-based system
2. Be more deliberate and be present in internal and external communications
3. Ensure people are supported to do the job they need to do
4. Use tools to help workflow and manage projects
5. Now is not the time for promotions, rather brands need to be helpful and useful
6. Prioritize doing the right thing over getting credit
7. Utilize your network and see where you can help
8. Look for ways to surprise and delight people