by Susan Shelby
The fight-or-flight response is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. During tough times, it is easy to think you should back off on marketing your company. Despite the pandemic, the business world is still staying up-to-date even while working from home – and they are planning for a return to business once the stay-at-home orders are lifted. Here are some tips and tricks on how you can stay in front of your clients and use this time to take charge of your marketing to make sure you can hit the ground running when life returns to a “new normal.”
This is the first global pandemic in the era of social media and 24/7 news cycles. It is also the first time the press has been sent home to cover a story. Reporters are working from home, juggling work with home schooling just like the rest of us – all while trying to stay on top of a story that changes by the hour, if not the minute. Pitch your news by email and outline succinctly why you feel this news would be of interest to his/her audience right now. If interested, the reporter will respond. If not, he/she may file the email away until the time is right. I’ve sent out a pitch and heard from a reporter six, nine, even 12 months later. And don’t bug a reporter if he/she doesn’t respond right away. Again, they are trying to work from home just like the rest of us and we could all use a little patience and understanding right now.
Do Your Homework
Before you start pitching your story, though, do your homework. Read the publication to see what stories they are covering and adjust your strategy accordingly. Most important, don’t lie and say your project is related to COVID-19 if it’s not. That is the best way to burn a bridge with a reporter.
Yes, COVID-19 is the top story for many media outlets but industry publications who cover the AEC (architect, engineering, construction) and commercial real estate industry are still covering company, project, and personnel news.
Use This Time Wisely
All of us have that to-do list we can never quite get to when times are busy. Well, if you – and your co-workers – have extra time on your hands right now, dust off your to-do list and start making headway on items. Some ideas:
- Review and update staff resumes and website bios
- Brainstorm topics for blogs, byline (contributed) articles, and speaking opportunities
- Create a questionnaire and ask your technical staff to provide the information you need to create project descriptions for project sheets, project profiles on the website, award submissions, etc.
- Consider co-authoring an article with a client
- Refresh your social media and website graphics
- Host a training session for your technical staff so they can update their LinkedIn profile
Look for New Opportunities
Just like the rest of us, the press has had to adapt to the situation and many have rolled out new features which may present an opportunity for your firm to increase its visibility. Some examples include:
- The Boston Business Journal used to have an “Out of the Office” feature, which was a photo gallery from business events. Now, it’s called “Working From Home” and they encourage readers to submit photos of their home office setup.
- The Boston Globe has turned the back page of its Metro section into a repository of positive and uplifting news.
- The New England Real Estate Journal has started a series of “One-on-One” video interviews.
- High-Profile Monthly has rolled out a weekly webinar series called, “HP Connects: A Conversation With …”
Keep your eyes and ears open and you just may find a new way to promote your firm and its expertise. Who knows? You may reach a whole new audience who needs your product or services.
Susan Shelby, FSMPS, CPSM is the president and CEO of Rhino Public Relations.