Digital PR in uncertain times

28 November 2022

With a looming recession and a cost-of-living crisis hanging over our heads, it can be tempting for businesses to slash their advertising spending to cut back costs.

However, a recession creates a unique opportunity for brands to reposition themselves in the market and ultimately save money as industry pull-back creates a great supply and demand dynamic.

Here are some useful tips, insights, and brand examples on how you can adapt your digital PR strategy to thrive and succeed during uncertain times.

What is digital PR?

Digital PR, short for digital public relations, is an online marketing strategy used by brands to increase their online presence.

In many ways, it is similar to traditional PR, but digital PR allows businesses to accurately track and measure audience reach through search visibility online.

Unlike traditional PR, digital PR campaigns can be adapted quickly to reflect real-time data. Brands can monitor online trends and quickly react to create an effective marketing campaign based on relevant discussions.

Be your customer’s safety net

Economic and social let-downs erode consumer trust meaning they are likely to set stricter spending budgets and leave brands to rewin their trust by offering safe and secure services.

When everything in the world is uncertain, it is important for brands to be something their consumers can rely on.

During the 2008 recession, automobile sales significantly declined in the US but while everyone else was selling less, Hyundai saw an increase in sales due to its bold marketing that provided consumers with the safety they couldn’t find elsewhere.

While consumers worried about the collapse of the housing market and had growing fears of unemployment, Hyundai offered to take back a car that was financed or leased by a worker who subsequently lost their job providing a lifeline for struggling car owners.

Speaking to NPR in 2009, John Krafick, CEO of Hyundai Motor in America, said, “We wanted to try a different kind of programme that seemed to address people’s fears during these uncertain times.”

In 2020, Hyundai reprised its assurance scheme to support consumers during Coronavirus.

Do and then say

In a digital environment, it has become increasingly easy for consumers to call out brands when what they say and what they do, don’t add up.

Brands have a responsibility to commit to doing the right thing and during uncertain times actions speak louder than words. Silence can be deafening, and it is important for brands to walk the walk before they talk to the talk.

Many brands make pledges and promise action, such as during the Black Lives Matter movement and International Women’s Day, however now more than ever consumers are holding brands accountable.

Recently we have seen Adidas come under fire after they initially stayed silent over Ye’s anti-semitic comments. Since then, the brand has terminated its partnership with Kayne West and described the comments as ‘unacceptable, hateful, and dangerous’.

However, some consumers have voiced it’s too little too late.

Angeli Gianchandani, practitioner in residence at the University of New Haven, spoke to Yahoo Finance on the matter and said, “Being able to communicate immediately and getting in front of the crisis is important.

“Your brand is your hero. That is your voice. That is your message. So, if you’re going to do any type of partnership, you need to really evaluate the risk at hand.

“Branding is about creating a value proposition — anything and everything communicates.”

Stand with and support competitors

We know it sounds odd but during an economic crisis, everyone is in the same boat. It is more than likely that your competitors are thinking and feeling the same raw emotions and uncertainty that you are also experiencing.

Brands that step up, show solidarity, and put on a united front are often the ones consumers remember long after the turbulence passes.

During Covid 19 Burger King won the hearts of consumers as they encouraged people to order from McDonald’s.

In a post to Instagram, they said. “We never thought we’d be asking you to do this, but restaurants employing thousands of staff really need your support at the moment.

“Getting a Whopper is always best, but ordering a Big Mac is also not such a bad thing.”

The statement put aside their ongoing rivalry and united fast-food chains across the world in an attempt to save hospitality jobs and local restaurants that were hit hard by the pandemic.

They also allowed independent restaurants to advertise on their Instagram for free until they were able to reopen and connect with friends in the hospitality industry through their hashtag #WhopperAndFriends.


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A post shared by Burger King UK (@burgerkinguk)

Top tips for digital PR in 2023

To prepare for 2023, brands should take advantage of the unique opportunities they are presented with. Consumers will be nervous and feel vulnerable so it is important to show them why your brand is different and how you can support them.

Don’t leave anything on the table. Positive stories from within and about your brand should be shared in order to gain consumer trust and convey your brand values. During times of doubt, negative news floods the media. Be the ray of light in your consumer’s life.

Your brand is no longer what you say it is, your brand is what your stakeholders say it is. Live and breathe your core values and always think back to your customer- how will it make them feel?

To create or adjust your digital PR strategy or to discuss your brand’s direction, get in touch with us today!




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