Company Announcements During a Crisis

Coverage of the ongoing pandemic has taken over the media both traditional and social. For businesses with some good news to share with the world, it can be tough to decide just when and how to tell their story. Traditional tactics such as press releases announcing funding, product upgrades and partnerships can still work, if handled appropriately. There are media outlets, including trades and larger publications that are still interested in “other news,” although only in moderation.

Unfortunately, you only get once true chance to make a big announcement, so doing it right is key. We’ve compiled some things to consider as you prepare.

Timing

Timing is essential during any company news announcement, but even more so in the current environment. It’s critical to make sure you aren’t competing with other big-ticket news stories that are already on the radar such as a U.S. Jobs Report or the coming of a critical decision by officials. You can’t predict all of the news, but a seasoned PR team with a strong understanding of the news cycle can guide you through the landmines. In return, it’s important to give them the right amount of time to conduct media outreach, follow ups and coordinate interviews. There are lots of competing interests and knowing your place among them will go a long way when it’s time to speak up. On the flip side of things, one can also use a pre-occupied media to their advantage when not-so-positive news is in need of announcing.

Media Relationships

This is a good time to lean on your PR agency’s media relationships. Your team should be able to have frank conversations with reporters and producers about their general appetite for this kind of news and their current editorial calendars. Think of it as using a weather balloon to gather intel that will allow you to tweak timing and messaging for better results.

Flexibility

Reporters and journalists are working from home too. Their kids are being homeschooled and their pets are photobombing video chats just like the rest of us. The fine line between work life and home life has been blurred beyond recognition. People are getting things done at all hours of the day and windows of availability are smaller than ever. We recommend being as flexible as possible when working around a journalist’s schedule. Days of 9am – 5pm are long gone.

Coronavirus

Anyone with an announcement should ask themselves, is there a COVID tie-in and is it worth leveraging? This is easy when the announcement directly benefits anyone negatively impacted by the pandemic and those doing their part to protect the greater good. But it’s not always so black and white. You don’t want to be seen as the company capitalizing off the pain of others or just being generally tone deaf to what’s happening. Your team can advise you how best to handle your particular announce and the appropriate messaging to use around it. In some cases, a press release may need to be replaced by a blog post. In others, social media might need to be the largest announcement channel. There is a lot of nuance and attention to detail required to do this all right.

What’s in it for the Audience?

Good PR professionals don’t try to sell a reporter a story. They sell the reporter on why their audience wants this story. This is a critical point of differentiation, especially in today’s world. Companies looking to make announcement need to first look within and determine if this news really adds value at this moment. Your PR team can help pull this narrative if it is not readily evident. Shaping a greater story around company news will lead to stronger overall results.