The exercise of Public Relations in times of pandemic

The advantages of using technology

Fabiola Martinez, senior PR executive, Mexico

So much has been said about COVID-19; and it is no wonder, the pandemic has certainly changed our lives. However, little has been said of the positive that we can take from the entire experience.

The need to maintain social distance, means that physical proximity is no longer possible, but – paradoxically – technology has enabled us to connect even more closely.

While everything else stopped, what kept the World spinning was technology. Much of it based on existing products given a new lease of life – on-line collaboration and video platforms have become as essential for corporates as they already were for consumers.

According to the OECD, the increase in Internet use in member countries increased by 60%. Similarly Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEGI), highlights that in 2019, already 6 out of 10 people used the Internet to make calls or video calls, 27% played online and 22% made purchases. 2020 saw all these activities increase both in a consumer and a professional or academic context.

Suddenly all the tools and applications for remote collaboration took on an unprecedented relevance, not least in a public relations (PR) and communications context. PR and technology have, literally, become synonymous; one can no longer one without the other.  Companies are offering services that help as see and live in the World in a different way; a world that has permanently changed due to COVID-19.

This combination between PR and technology has generated a new degree proximity between brands and consumers; new forms of content creation, and ways of sharing knowledge and experiences.

Virtual events are enabling stakeholders to engage in a way that may not have been possible, even, physically; in many cases, more people are able to participate in events and meetings than before the pandemic.

From a media perspective, these shifts could mean more contact with executives, more varied content and more engagement with audiences. Web events have proliferated to an extent that journalists have an unprecedented access and material to produce quality journalism; a reality that benefits all parties

In such a context, competition has never been higher; the obligation is on the PR agency to refine messages and target the right journalists with relevant content that matters to them.

The pandemic has precipitated a global technological revolution. The priority for communicators is not to remain static, but to seize every opportunity that these new forms of communication offer.  Companies who realise that their audiences are actually closer than ever, will be best placed in this ‘new normal’.