PR Checklist for the Covid-19 Pandemic

Over-communicate, tone your sales pitch down and go digital-first.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer


The Covid-19 pan­dem­ic will emphas­ise the import­ance of PR.

Many busi­nesses will per­ish due to the fin­an­cial impact of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic. It’s sad, and there are no two ways about it. 

However, no mat­ter how bad things are for your busi­ness, tough times are no excuse for com­mu­nic­at­ing worse.

If any­thing, we should all strive to com­mu­nic­ate better. 

The sil­ver lin­ing is that a crisis is an excel­lent oppor­tun­ity to improve your pub­lic rela­tions.

Here we go:

1. Balance Your Covid-19 Communication

Businesses are known for exag­ger­at­ing pos­it­ive news and down­play­ing neg­at­ive news. In times of Covid-19, neither is a good PR strategy. The mar­ket will trust and appre­ci­ate busi­nesses that promptly provide bal­anced and accur­ate information.

2. Don’t Withhold Any Information

Building and main­tain­ing cus­tom­er trust is a long game. Even if you might see poten­tial advant­ages in with­hold­ing cer­tain inform­a­tion for release later, there will come a day of reck­on­ing when your con­duct will be scru­tin­ised and evaluated.

3. Communicate Clear Actions

Many busi­nesses are recit­ing mes­sages already con­veyed by the rel­ev­ant author­it­ies. Instead, your busi­ness must explain what actions have been taken and what steps you will take. In these cir­cum­stances, actions speak the loudest.

4. Tone Down Your Sales Pitches, Please

Consider paus­ing your email auto­ma­tion and sur­vey­ing your run­ning advert­ise­ments. Now is not the time for any hard­core sales pitches. Sales are the lifeblood of all com­merce and should con­tin­ue, but be mind­ful of your tonality.

5. Don’t Capitalise on Public Unrest

The Covid-19 pan­dem­ic (and the sub­sequent unrest) might open up spe­cif­ic busi­ness oppor­tun­it­ies. Be care­ful in rais­ing prices or prey­ing upon irra­tion­al pub­lic beha­viours. Whatever upside your busi­ness might stand to gain short term, the long-term reper­cus­sions could be severe.

6. Over-Communicate

Due to the Covid-19 out­break, many busi­nesses will not main­tain their nor­mal ser­vice levels. Strive nev­er to sur­prise your cus­tom­ers; always explain the situ­ation, take action well in advance, and trust that your mar­ket under­stands your concern.

7. Don’t Be the Hero, Don’t Be the Victim

Avoid brag­ging about tak­ing on extra cor­por­ate social respons­ib­il­it­ies to sup­port the com­munity. And don’t cry for empathy due to how tough your fin­an­cial situ­ation might become. Keep your mar­ket informed without ask­ing them to feel any­thing extra for your business.

8. Increase Communication Budgets

Communicating less in a crisis is like remov­ing any grease from the cog­wheels that are your busi­ness. Instead, share more than your busi­ness usu­ally does. It’s okay for your mar­ket and employ­ees to worry about the real­ity, but not over lack of information.

9. Avoid Talking to People Like Children

Many busi­nesses see the Covid-19 out­break as an oppor­tun­ity to embrace a fath­erly role. However, the mar­ket is not stu­pid, and you would be wise not to speak to them as if they were your chil­dren. Don’t tell them what to do; tell them what you’re doing.

10. Update Your Website 

In times of tre­mend­ous pres­sure, offer­ing just-in-time sup­port on an indi­vidu­al level might be impossible. Anyone with ques­tions regard­ing your busi­ness should find all answers on your website.

11. Postpone Physical Events

The first months of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic will not be suit­able for cel­eb­rat­ing oth­er news than med­ic­al advance­ments and stor­ies of human col­lab­or­a­tion in adversity. While there might be reas­ons to keep ahead of the com­pet­i­tion, don’t expect the usu­al launch exposure.

12. Go 100% Digital for IC

There is no short­age of altern­at­ives for intern­al com­mu­nic­a­tions using vari­ous digit­al plat­forms. This is an excel­lent time to explore how much of your daily busi­ness oper­a­tions can be run without phys­ic­al interaction.

Read also How insights can help you improve your Public Relations dur­ing a crisis (Whispr Group).

Follow the WHO web­site for coronavir­us (Covid-19) reports.

Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing art­icles with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. You might also con­sider my PR ser­vices or speak­ing engage­ments.

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has



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