10 PR commandments for tough times

By Kirsty Scott, joint managing director

At the moment, it seems the only thing that’s certain is that there are uncertain times ahead for the UK economy. While there are some areas of construction that are outperforming the wider UK outlook, for many people it can be hard to know what tone to strike in your communications.

Fortunately for us, our PR team has a total of 45 years of experience* in the business which means that between them, they have helped dozens of clients to navigate both good times and bad – so Kirsty, Faye, Liz and Amy have put together their 10 PR commandments for tough times.

1. Keep sharing good news

People in the construction sector – just like everyone else – can get fatigued by a cycle of bad news, so digital and print publications are often hungry for good news. That means that if you have something positive to say, you’ll easily find an audience for it. Whether it’s a recruitment drive, positive sales results, or a heartwarming CSR initiative, people will welcome a break from the negativity.

2. But avoid cliches!

Tempting though it may be, editors will quickly get bored of seeing tired old phrase such as ‘bucking the trend’ or ‘weathering the storm’ in their inbox. Find a more original and succinct way to get the message across – or better yet, let your success speak for itself. If you’ve just secured a sizeable contract, simply stick to the facts and your audience will be suitably impressed.

3. Don’t ignore what’s going on out there

Your customers and stakeholders are all living through the pandemic as well, so failing to acknowledge it could make your comms look out of step with reality. However, don’t make everything you do revolve around the pandemic and economic situation: if it’s not relevant to your narrative, that’s fine.

4. Plan ahead, but be flexible

Yes, there’s some uncertainty about the future, but that it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a strategic framework in place. But the economic climate is changeable, so you must understand that your carefully thought-out plans and campaigns might have to change or be put on hold entirely so that they don’t strike the wrong chord.

5. Put your customers first

One of our new clients told us an astonishing fact this summer: when pitching, we were the only agency to discuss their customers as part of our response. But it has never been more important to write with a specific customer profile in mind – people want to do business with companies that understand them, and this ethos should be at the heart of your PR strategy.

6. Hone your identity

With so many businesses vying for the same media space – and, in construction, often the same customer base as well – you will need to consider what sets your company apart. Why should someone choose you over a competitor? What is your reputation in the industry? Are you communicating the right message to the right people at the right time?

7. Don’t delay unnecessarily

It might be tempting to put off any new activity you had planned – whether it’s a product launch or a new website. But that doesn’t have to be the case. As long as you’re sensitive with your approach and get your timings right, a challenging economic climate can be a good opportunity to stand out from your competitors, who may well have scaled back their marketing.

8. Considering entering an award? Go for it.

Relevant industry awards can help your business to set itself apart – but more than that, a win or even a shortlisting can provide a real morale-boost for your staff and colleagues. Awards provide a third-party endorsement for your company, its products or services, and your team, and a high-profile win can give you a tangible competitive edge.

9. Have faith in your PR agency

While a global pandemic is something none of us have worked within before, our PR team’s (many) years of experience means we’re well-equipped to help our clients through difficult times – whether that’s implementing a crisis communications strategy, or simply helping to maintain a steady presence throughout. We’re here to support you, guide you, and our ultimate goal is to see your business come through these times in the strongest possible position.

10. Don’t let your comms go dark

Above all, keep communicating for as long as you can. Your customers will be looking for reassurance from their supply chain, and you need to ensure that you stay on their radar. Good communication is always a good investment.


*We will not be accepting any jokes about our respective ages at this time. Thank you for your understanding.

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