Lessons From The Year That Was And Navigating The Year That Is: Q&A With The McKeeman Team

For PR firms in Charlotte, NC, 2020 was definitely one for the books. It was a year filled with uncertainty and change, with businesses doing what they can to adapt and survive. What lessons did we learn from this tumultuous season and how do we use these lessons to successfully take on the opportunities and challenges of the new year? We sat down with the McKeeman Communications team and talked about last year, and what’s in store for 2021.

Q: What kind of messaging resonated with audiences in 2020?

McKeeman: Audiences related to stories that appeal to emotion; these inspire them to take positive action. We’ve learned that it’s okay for businesses to be vulnerable and communicate how COVID-19 has truly affected their operations. Customers would like to know more about the precautionary steps organizations are taking and how they can show their support for local businesses during these trying times.

Q: As people in the events industry would say, “There’s nothing like live events.” What’s your take on this?

McKeeman: While we agree with this sentiment, everyone’s safety is the priority at the moment and we have to find alternatives. Virtual events are on the rise; investing in technology, and coming up with short but engaging programs are some of the ways to ensure your event’s success.

Q: Maintaining a social media presence is now essential to any organization’s communications strategy. With content being churned out 24/7, how do you stand out from the clutter?

McKeeman: You can increase your chances of social media success with these steps:

Develop a social media calendar. Focus on great storytelling; audiences can detect a sales pitch from miles away and will scroll up immediately.
Focus on image-driven content. Images, infographics, GIFs and videos have higher organic engagement rates.
Invest in social media ads. Fewer than 5% of your followers will see your average organic post. Ads will help push your content to an even bigger market.

Q: How should businesses communicate about COVID-19?

McKeeman: Even if no one in your company has it, or has come in contact with the virus, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t address its potential impact. Acknowledging that you have control over your business situation creates confidence for others, from your employees to your customers.

Working with your leadership team and putting together a plan focused on preventive measures that your team is taking against the virus will help gain employee trust. Ensure that this plan is shared by everyone within the organization. Your customers will be thankful that an issue that feels like an elephant in the room is being confronted, addressed, and dealt with.

Q: What should PR firms in Charlotte NC keep in mind in 2021?

McKeeman: Accept the fact that it’s still not business as usual. Businesses and consumers are still struggling to get back on their feet, if at all. The future remains uncertain, and that’s okay. Embracing this reality allows you to meet customers and key audiences where they are.

Regroup and reconsider how your messaging will land in today’s climate. Traditional marketing during these times can be perceived as tone-deaf or opportunistic.

Lastly, keep in mind that your product or service might not be what your customers need right now. Helping them address their immediate needs creates goodwill.

How you communicate in this new normal speaks volumes, now and in the future, and can set you up for success. Authentic empathy has been proven to strengthen customer relationships.

Q: Can anyone be really prepared for something as massive as a pandemic?

McKeeman: It does help to have a crisis management action plan. Consider the following questions when creating one:

  • Does your company have a documented crisis/issues action plan that’s shared by all? Start by listing down the top three to five recurring issues your organization has been facing that you’d like to address.
  • Do you have a crisis management team? Crisis management is not just the responsibility of one person.
  • Is your company’s mission, core values, and messaging shared by everyone on your team? During a crisis situation, employees look to the management team for guidance. Reiterate your core values and make sure everyone in the team lives and breathes them, so there’s less room for lapses or miscommunication.

Recognized as one of the leading PR firms in Charlotte NC, McKeeman Communications is an independent PR agency working with companies that are experiencing rapid growth or change. We help localize and share messaging that builds awareness and trust for their brands. Visit our website to learn more.

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