Adapting PR Strategy in the Age of Coronavirus

For every 20 or so businesses losing steam because of the coronavirus, there’s one that’s doing okay or even better. So far it’s looking like we’re in the latter category and I wanted to share this in case it might help other businesses thinking there’s not much they can do short of manufacturing masks and hand sanitizer.

The trick to doing this as a PR firm is to, if possible, cater to whatever the media’s current appetite may be (that’s our specialty) instead of trying to offer an alternate menu.

In January, we got our regular, retainer clients a total of 43 unique media placements. In February, 56, and in March, 67. April began with us providing the only West Coast-based legal experts for the first new primetime show in a while on CourtTV. I expect that this will be a better month than March.

We accomplished this by adding two new team members, by inserting our clients into articles that we wrote ourselves and distributed to copy-hungry media outlets and, even more so, by pivoting to focus more on getting our clients into coronavirus stories.

We added the URLs and, both of which hit a coronavirus page on our website that explains what we’re trying to do. We also established a media-only portal for legal/coronavirus sources, story ideas and quotes (ping me if you’re a journalist and would like that link).

For our legal experts, this wasn’t too tricky of a pivot. Neama Rahmani of West Coast Trial Lawyers talked on CourtTV about whether R. Kelly merits a coronavirus-related release from prison (questionable), and whether it makes sense to try to hold trials with remote jurors (criminal probably won’t work, civil might). Legal investigator Harry Kazakian of USA Express talked to the media about coronavirus scams. Michelle Simpson Tuegel, a Dallas-based litigator who reps a lot of athletes and is a former pro athlete herself, went on TV to discuss the Olympics being postponed and the U.S. Olympic Committee’s stimulus bill request.

The best and most generic guidance I can give is that the times are always changing. Don’t let fear of the pandemic short circuit your ability to think creatively about your choices and to aggressively pursue them. Don’t let your worry about those who rely upon you be more powerful than your motivation to help them. Hang in there and this too shall pass.

The coronavirus is so ubiquitous because of the way it adapted to infect human hosts. But when it comes to adaptation, we’ve been around a hell of a lot longer and we have many tricks up our sleeve.