COVID19Public Relations

How PR Could Deliver Meaningful Engagements And Deeper Impact In The Post COVID-19 Era?

I believe that PR is not a job for regular times, but rather a substantial tool in times of crises.

The reason is simple: under normal circumstances, a company builds a reputation for its image and maintains contact with its stakeholders. But once something bad happens, this reputation is put under question. In other words, it is more difficult to stay on top than to get there.

Under difficult circumstances, only a successful PR team can come to the rescue. A successful team would have the skills needed to redefine their strategies and pen new agendas. The team must also have the know-how of crises management and be capable of putting its members’ skills into gears to maintain and even improve the image and reputation of companies. Using PR in the times of crises can help companies maintain their reputation by showcasing their strengths or recognizing their weaknesses whilst highlighting the upcoming potential.

In the times of crises, it is important for companies to redefine their PR strategy to match the developments they deal with. The companies must adhere to transparency and communicate and provide help when needed. The public will remember how companies and brands operated through crises and hold them accountable for it.

Covid-19 has definitely taken a toll on all of us, but it is how we adapt that defines us.

To give you an example, we had been planning for the Narrative Summit 2020 when the pandemic hit; but we did not give up. Instead, we pivoted to a new format. We decided, since everyone is now online for business or pleasure, let’s take the summit to them – and so we did. Instead of limiting ourselves to the thousands that attended the conference every year, Narrative Summit this year has reached over 3 million people. The new format has proven so successful that we have prepared and launched four seasons in less than a year and we are already preparing a fifth season soon.


Which industry do you like to work for the most?

CC Plus is a is a full-fledged multi-disciplinary communications and PR firm operating in local and regional markets. We do not like to settle in a comfort zone but rather constantly seek new challenges. We take pride in being capable of delivering top results no matter what the sector is.

That said, and while CC Plus does not favor specific sectors, we handpick our customers to ensure we both share the same work ethics. We are always transparent and credible and so are our customers in all sectors. All our clients are offering added value to our community and the economy as a whole, starting from small and medium enterprises to the largest corporations.


Do you think the Egyptian market is ready now for digital media and corporate communications to overlap?

It is not just Egypt that is ready, the entire world is seeing digital media and corporate communications overlapping. Digital media is already influencing all decisions from what to eat, to which diet to follow, or which car to buy, and even, like in the US, who to vote for. This is why companies are also using digital media to take their ideas to the people directly and defy the old norms of marketing and communications.

This becomes more evident in some specialized sectors than others. Some sectors are not relatable to the people. Back in the day, if a customer is reading a newspaper, they would only read what is of interest to them and turn a blind eye to everything else. But digital media helps companies change that by simplifying complex ideas and delivering them to customers in a comprehensive way. So instead of writing a long press release about a new banking product, a one-minute video on the same product would deliver much better results.


How do you see the impact of big data with interactive content on PR trends for 2021?

Digital media has changed how marketing works. Massive amounts of data are generated every day on digital media websites. There has never been so much content and data available for PR as there is today. But all this data is encrypted. Our role is to take raw data and analyze it to transform it into real insights that can help our clients make the right calls assist them in delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time.

Big data, for example, can help our clients identify niche communities for specific campaigns. This also helps customizing campaigns and identifying specific influencers and journalists to reach out to within these sectors.

Using big data also aids us, in our capacity as a PR company, to help our clients avoid crises by monitoring their reputation and keeping a close eye on bad publicity and refute rumors or address real issues as soon as possible, thus, maintaining a positive sentiment about our clients. It does not also stop there, analyzing trends helps us advise our clients about potential competition and measure the success of our clients’ products and campaigns.


Do you think 2021 will be the year of micro influencers?

Covid-19 proved that entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises are the real locomotive of development. According to the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, SMEs contribute 80% to Egypt’s GDP. With that in mind, the future seems bright for small companies to grow.

And to drive this growth, the right marketing tools must be utilized, including the use of influencers. However, if you are an up and coming restaurant in a small city outside Cairo, using a celebrity influencer might be farfetched for two reasons: it will be burdensome financially and you would not necessarily be reaching the right audience. However, using a micro influencer who is well known locally will be much easier and will deliver a much better impact. Localization, which was enforced after the pandemic, is a catalyst to optimize local caliber.

Covid-19 has hit major markets and disrupted global trade and supply chain. But with this comes an opportunity for local manufacturers and entrepreneurs to flourish. This makes me believe that micro influencers will definitely be a tool tapped by local SMEs to market their products and services, making the growth of this method certain in the coming period.


Would you share with us your tips and tricks for reputation management in 2021?

While I would love to give my input, 2020 has taught us that so many things can take you by surprise and that none of us has a definitive answer in how to respond to them. My top tip to you for 2021 would be learning how to adapt to an evolving situation.

My second tip would be to listen carefully to the conversation about your brand or company. Early intervention is much less costly than trying to fix a damaged reputation. Similarly, reputation is an inside out roadmap so I encourage you to listen to your team and maintain an open channel with its members. Building a strong team culture within your organization is vital as they are the ambassadors of your organizations and a loyal team can make or break a company, especially in times of crises.

This brings me to the third tip, which is maintaining an open line of communication with your target audience and customers. While listening is good, it will only get you so far. You should also speak up about upcoming products, admit mistakes, if any, and rectify them.

To do so, you need to be creative. Start using new tools of communication. If you are targeting youth, speak to them on their platforms. And do not shy away from experimenting. Measure the response and make changes as necessary along the way.


Do you think 2021 will witness a rise for employee engagement?

2020 has been a very difficult year for most of us. The pandemic has caused many companies to downsize their business, shed jobs, or reduce salaries. As a result, some 2.3 million people lost their jobs. However, the year has changed what a job is and who is really employed as many have resorted to freelancing or starting their own projects. While we have seen some of these changes coming on the long run, the pandemic imposed new realities immediately. One of the changes that took place last year was the traditional form of employment.

If 2020 witnessed employment falling down, the coming period should reflect these changes.


Do you think innovation will still differentiate leaders from mediocres? in 2021?

Necessity is the mother of invention. The post-Covid world will need more innovators and leaders to emerge. The traditional role of a boss has come to an end or, at least, is close to that. While a boss manages employees, a true leader inspires them to innovate. And in such difficult times, it is innovation that we need so leaders will arise.

Lamia Kamel

Lamia is one of the pioneers in Political Communication in Egypt. She has been involved as a communications strategist in many of the most highly visible campaigns in Egypt.