High-Lights: Our Tech PR POV

Thinking About Your Media Engagement During a Pandemic

During the past three months while adhering to state/local/federal directives on how best to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, citizens around the globe have been faced with many challenges and new normals. In the field of marketing and communications we’ve been used to face-to-face, personalized engagements whether it be in the office, meeting onsite with clients and partners or at industry events. We’ve also been used to changing news cycles and have adjusted our plans accordingly, but this pandemic has forced us to rethink our strategies and approaches. 

Marketers and communications professionals have had to adapt not only to a remote working environment but also how best to insert ourselves into the news of the day while also being mindful of the overall tone and appetite for “normal” campaigns and news. 

One area of our support for clients has been around funding announcements. Funding announcements are often some of the largest announcements that an organization typically has during its lifetime. It is a significant event which draws a lot of attention and serves as a key moment in time for a company to clearly communicate its key messages to the market. This milestone event also serves as a rallying point both internally and externally as it proves that there is not only financial backing of the work being done, but that there is a belief in the approach from outside investors. Being able to tell these stories provides a chance to differentiate from your competitors, attract new talent to your team and to get both existing and prospective customers excited about doing business with you.

Announcing a round of funding is a very time intensive and pressure packed event with expectations to generate high quality coverage across the media outlets that will hit target audiences. But what is it like to announce a round of funding during the midst of a pandemic? Highwire recently had the opportunity to work with our clients from VAST Data and Onfido to launch their respective funding rounds within a few days of each other. While both serving different audiences, there were a lot of similarities our teams saw when working with members of the media (and our clients). 

Here are some of the takeaways from our recent work:

Have sharp and succinct content

We all know that messaging is a critical component in any piece of content a brand releases but today it is so much more important due to the flood of competing information that is in response to COVID-19. Focus on the overall objectives of the news and connect them with the needs of the market and media TODAY.

Understand the media landscape

This is a staple of all media announcements. You need to understand what is happening in the news right now in order to properly engage with reporters. The COVID-19 pandemic presented several challenges as media organizations shifted their focus to cover breaking news regarding the outbreak on a global scale. This required us to be closely monitoring the news in order to get a better understanding of reporter’s appetites and what they were like for non COVID-19 stories. During our discussions it was also evident to us that there was a higher appetite for exclusives from all media. This told us that the competition for stand-alone news was high and that we needed to manage the desire of the media along with our clients goals.

Keep your eyes open

With the changing focus of the media, along with the trending news of the day you have to be aware of how your story can be connected to what is top of mind for journalists in that moment. We had the opportunity to identify some very interesting topics that our clients could speak to that only increased the value that their offerings brought to the market.

Determine your media strategy and stick to it

Leading up to our announcements we had made the decision that in order to meet our goals, we wanted to take our news to a broad audience for a couple of reasons. First, there were multiple audiences that each organization wanted to connect with. Second, each of these had the chance to stand above its competitors. With the changing daily news, we had more of an opportunity to connect our clients with the trends of the day. We ultimately turned down several exclusive opportunities with top tier business publications and stuck to our approach of up-leveling our story so that the unique value to each media audience was clear.

Prep company spokespeople and highlight how you are helping in the fight

As a part of any media interview, it is critical to prep spokespeople on not only what key messages they should be hammering home, but what are the tough questions they don’t want to be asked. In every interview, each company spokesperson was asked about the organization’s COVID-19 plans and what the impact could likely be on its business. The second part was critical as it presents an opportunity for a spokesperson to highlight the organization’s role in how they are helping in the fight.

If you’re in the process of re-thinking some of your marketing communications, digital or campaign development, let’s talk. We’re all figuring out the best way forward each day during this pandemic while also trying our best to proceed with business as usual.