Yes, You Can Publicize Your Company’s COVID-19 “Success Stories”
Touting your company’s good news is a basic tenet of PR 101. Maybe you have employees going above and beyond in assisting customers or mobilizing resources to raise money for local charities – those are great stories that deserve to be told, as they shine a positive light on your staff and organization. That’s one goal of PR; people want to do business with companies they respect.
But what about promoting your good news that occurs during the COVID-19 pandemic? Is this something you can engage in, or simply take a pass to avoid the potential negative optics?
You can and should engage…but with a bit of caution. If your organization is rallying together in the fight against COVID-19, absolutely you can promote that. There is no compelling reason why your good news needs to remain on the sideline. The word of caution is you do not want your actions to come across as too opportunistic or self-congratulatory. That will quickly tarnish any goodwill your efforts have garnered. If your messaging is factual and sincere, it will be received favorably. So, how do you effectively announce your company’s good news during the crisis? For starters, you must first find the news.
Your team is probably doing amazing things in support of COVID-19. Of course, human nature is to be humble, so they are likely not telling many people about their accomplishments. But they’re doing great things. Perhaps they made a special trip to a customer to help them increase production output of food or supplies for COVID-19 relief efforts? Maybe they worked overtime to expedite a critical order for a pharmaceutical customer to manufacture vaccines? They may have worked with a distributor to modify equipment to help their customer temporarily manufacturer N95 masks.
Examples like this are probably happening more than you know. These are great stories to tell as it shows your team rising to the occasion. Look for them within your facility and supply chain – they are waiting to be told.
One-on-one with the media
Once you have examples, it’s time to share them with the media. Both the trade and local press are hot for all-things COVID-19, however, they are covering the issue from different angles. While the consumer and local press are captivated in the number of cases and individual state lockdowns, the B2B trade press is more interested in how the pandemic is affecting the industry they cover. They want to know about its impact on production; how product is being moved; communication issues; impact to jobs; how C-Suite is dealing with issues…and the human element behind the crisis. This is where your good news stories are in demand.
It is most effective to reach out directly to the B2B media and speak with editors one-on-one about story angles they could pursue with your leads. They want to hear stories of how companies in their industry are meeting the challenge head on. Due to the timeliness of the crisis, your stories make great content for their electronic platforms, including e-newsletters and daily/weekly e-news alerts they distribute to subscribers. Do not expect a long, glowing review on your company. Rather, the content will be in a supplier roundup format where they tout the accolades of several companies together.
Discussions with editors could also lead to inclusion in larger articles or op-eds they may be working on that focus on bigger-picture topics posed by COVID-19. This is a great avenue for leadership to comment on issues, reassure stakeholders that the company is responding to the crisis accordingly, and praise the team for the work they’re doing.
Appealing local angles
Your good news stories also make attractive leads to local/consumer media as well. Reporters are always interested in being able to take a national issue like COVID-19 and localize it. Although communicating your news to a B2B audience is more impactful from a business development standpoint, landing publicity in the local press does help shape opinions in your favor; you can never have too much of that. And just like pitching B2B editors, talk directly with local reporters about your story angles to see if there is any interest. Avoid writing and distributing a press release to everyone listing your COVID-19 accomplishments, especially when the crisis is still ongoing. That move could be easily seen as self-lauding.
It's also important to remember that any earned media coverage acts as independent third-party validation of your efforts; the media is doing the “touting” of the company, not you. These placements can also be repurposed on your company’s social media platforms, gaining extra mileage for your team’s efforts.
Do not let COVID-19 deter you from telling your organization’s stories. As long as the message is straightforward and sincere, it should meet with favorable results.