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PR Checklist for the Covid-19 Pandemic

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

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Instagram)

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 amount of 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.

Thank you for reading this article. Please consider supporting my work by sharing it with other PR- and communication professionals. For questions or PR support, contact me via [email protected].

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


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