Rethinking Company Narratives, Now More Than Ever

Is Your Content Appropriate for Today’s World?

We are all facing a new reality because of the pandemic and the need to work at home, as well as all the protests around Black Lives Matter, diversity, inclusion, and equality. What companies aren’t affected by these changes? Everyone is affected. Even your company narrative is affected.

People are having social conversations right now about wearing masks and whether it’s safe to meet friends outside for coffee while being 6 feet apart. They are talking about racial injustice and protests. Friends are worried about the political scene and the security of our upcoming presidential election. Parents are facing online learning issues because of the COVID-19 education fallout from having their children home during this pandemic. 

It is tough out there!

How Does a Company Promote Itself at This Time?  

And because all companies are affected by this, we need to change the narrative and the stories that we’re telling. Have you evaluated what your content is saying? Is it in tune with your company values? How do we use PR and a content strategy to do that? 

Rodin's Thinker

Credit: Steven N. Fettig, Creative Commons 

All companies need to adapt to this new world order and figure out new ways to tell their stories to meet these new demands. 

We all know now that companies need to talk about their values and promote them on their websites because consumers are now making decisions based on that. Who knew at the beginning of 2020 that companies would be evaluating who they worked with based on how they are handling the pandemic? How they’re handling Black Lives Matter? What their social values are? 

So today it is more important than ever that companies focus on being authentic, transparent, and honest in all of their communications. 

What does that mean for today’s PR practitioner? 

In a recent post, leading PR tech providers talked about the biggest way communications has in the past two months.  Jennifer Friese, chief revenue officer of Business Wire, explained that “Clients are not only trying to communicate consistently and transparently but being particularly thoughtful about communications.” Greg Galant, CEO of Muck Rack, stated With the media being saturated with COVID-19 coverage, it’s difficult to find the right angle that will resonate with the media, while also not seeming to be opportunistic or tone-deaf.”

Stop, Drop and Rethink

If our clothing catches on fire, we know to Stop, Drop, and Roll. What do we do in this fire situation?  Stop, drop all current plans, and rethink what the company is saying.

  • You have to be authentic, transparent and honest when you’re pitching reporters
  • Reevaluate your pitch with the added filter of awareness
  • Your social media posts need to be able to reflect that instead of just promoting the company’s XYZ widget. 
  • Your website copy needs to reflect these issues as well. 

Litmus Test For Appropriate Content

Try this litmus test to help you determine if your content is appropriate:

  • What is the context for this piece of content?
  • Is the content appropriate in that context?
  • Is this sensitive to the issues happening today/this week/this month and in my town/state/region?
  • Is the content self-serving or is it helpful to my audience?
  • Is the content relevant or will it be seen as tone-deaf? 
  • Is the creative appropriate for the audience and the times? Are your images and photos on your social channels appropriate?

Walk Like an Egyptian and Think Like a Reporter

Think like a reporter and develop story ideas that reporters would write. Most stories today need to address the topics that are relevant: politics, COVID, BLM protests and diversity, equality, inclusion. 

Spend some time looking at the headlines of a few top publications and see the types of connections reporters are making between the news and all the challenges. Then, find a way to tie your company’s news or subject matter to one of the main news topics.

If you represent a conference or group that meets in person, suggest ways that people are adapting to being online or socially distancing.

Does your software company help schools and college campuses with remote access to high-performance computers?  With all the concern over online education, find a way to tie your company to this problem.

The moral of the story is that companies are being challenged to rethink their narrative, to reimagine with their stories, and just start over. 

What has your company done to address this?