Marketing Podcast

PR in a Pandemic with Sharon Zeev Poole

Season 3 – Episode 2

Crisis Series: PR is often used during a crisis, but what does it mean when we are all experiencing a global pandemic?

I am chatting with Sharon Zeev Poole, Founder and Director of highly regarded boutique PR and communications agency Agent99 in Sydney, Australia.  Sharon and I discuss what the PR industry has been experiencing since the pandemic and lockdowns begin, and what campaigns still work during this crisis.

We discuss:

  • Impact on the Australian PR Industry
  • What are the most important PR skills when there is a crisis?
  • Examples of good PR from big brands

Subscribe via: iTunes | Stitcher | Soundcloud | CastBox

Transcript

Fiona:

As part of the 2020 crisis series of this marketing life, I am chatting with Sharon Zeev Poole, the Founder and Director of highly regarded boutique PR and communications agency Agent 99.

Sharon runs full-service award winning agency in Surry Hills Sydney specialising and launching brands in the food, beverage, and lifestyle spaces as well as raising the profiles of corporate clients thought leaders and authors.

She has worked all over the world on brands, including Warner Brothers and Starbucks and her agency was also crowned the state and national winner of the 2019 PRIA golden target awards for this small agency of the year today, though, we are chatting about PR in a time of lock down and crisis.

Welcome to the show, Sharon.

Sharon:

Thanks so much Fiona. Thanks for having me.

Fiona:

I’m thrilled that you’ve come on to chat. This time is unique in our entire lifetimes, we’ve never seen a pandemic or lock down like this. Our parents haven’t. No one has.

Sharon:

No, and it depends on which day you actually get me. And I sometimes think we’re very lucky, we’re very fortunate to experience something that’s just so, so unique and really say what we’re all made of.

Fiona:

Oh my goodness, I’m so glad you’re looking on the bright side, because it’s really hard I keeping in touch with my friends and family and… Yeah, it’s been ups and downs, and it’s always hard just to come right back round on the bright side.

Sharon:

Yeah, absolutely, and I get it. I think that it just depends on your situation. I think some people have been impacted, really severely, lost their jobs, etc.. That’s really tough… to look on the bright side, but I think that you have to always… And you have to understand that this is temporary, it’s not forever…

Fiona:

That’s what we keep telling ourselves. But yeah, business, especially small business has taken a massive hit. How are you going? How is your agency going?

Sharon:

You know what, I have to admit, when it first happened, I don’t know, about two months, or six weeks, two months ago, I was in a complete state of shock that was literally, I remember that week of March 9th, I started getting all of these calls. I could see that the tide was changing but I don’t think that I understood the magnitude yet, but all of these clients started calling and saying…

Fiona:

It came in like a tsunami right?

Sharon:

Like a tsunami! And it was literally. It was a good day if we weren’t losing a client, or a client wasn’t putting their remit on hold or postponing or it was literally a shock, that I’ve never gone though.

And you know, if we part ways with a client that’s not a good feeling under normal circumstances, and I’m the kind of person that really, literally loses sleep because I take things very personally. And so you can imagine that week when things were having… and it had nothing to do with us, and yet I couldn’t sleep at night, it was terrible, it was a really hard time.

But I have to say, it was because of that we really… we got into it absolute pivot mode. I hate that word now, ’cause I’ve been saying it over and over, so we… But we got into that mode and we became so agile and just really started changing things for our clients and we came out okay.

A lot of clients stayed on board and we’ve gone ahead and really helped them to pivot… We’re doing a lot of new things for them, so it’s really caused that. Look, we certainly took a hit at the start. And by that, I mean a lot of that clients are event-based and so we…

They’ve just moved their event to either the end of this year or beginning of next year, and therefore that revenue just gets moved. It’s not… we’ve lost it completely. It just gets moved.

Fiona:

It gets shuffled.

Sharon:

Exactly right. But at the same time, new business is really challenging. So the pipeline is the tough one to fill at the moment but I have to say overall, we are faring a lot better than many, many other agencies that I know of.

Fiona:

Well, it’s like you said, with crisis that does come opportunity if you have the right attitude, the right mindset, and you can just think flexibly.

Sharon:

Yes, exactly, and you have to… And it’s so tough when you’re under duress as well to think that way.

Fiona:

Of course and you turn on the TV and the TV doesn’t exactly have good news, especially for those first couple of weeks…

Sharon:

Exactly. But as they say “necessity is the mother of all invention. And I just found myself in this mode, where I literally was thinking across 12 different clients of what their challenges are and what are they facing with their own audience, and what can we do to help and how can we be useful to them.

And I was literally re-strategising with my team of course, but given the experience that I have, it was easy, it came easier to me, because it’s just, it’s one of those things that when you’ve lived through different situations, you can… nothing like this of course, but… you can change direction really quickly if you have to. And so it was gruelling. We were working really long hours in those first few weeks, just because we just… it was literally a race against the clock to help our clients not lose their audience, or not lose sales, or not…. you know…

And I came down to which industry you are in, because some just… the hospitality and the travel… just stopped…

Fiona:

It collapsed.

Sharon:

No matter what you did, no matter how good you were, it had nothing to do. You can’t bring them back because there is nothing to bring back, that’s where legislation and government really has their… puts the boundaries and restrictions and there’s just literally nothing you can do.

What you can do, though, is do start thinking about when they do come back, what does that look like? Clearly it’s about making sure that your business is robust enough and can whether that storm and then be there at the other end.

Fiona:

No, that’s true, that’s true. I guess from your perspective and being such an expert in PR, the thing is, PR is from a marketing perspective is probably the part of marketing that is on the front line of any crisis…

Sharon:

That’s right.

Fiona:

So normally when any… even if it’s just like these micro-crises now, everything seems to be a micro-crisis after coronavirus…

Sharon:

Oh yeah, that’s right.

Fiona:

Even when just a normal business or normal industry has a small crisis, you guys tend to be on the front line.

You guys tend to be the people there who are dealing with the comms and getting it out.

So I guess that kind of gives you… That’s kind of helpful when something happens like this because instead of just doubling down on one little crisis in one industry, you’ve now got to effectively use all your knowledge and all your resources from every crisis, you have seen and helped with. And divert that literally to everybody?

Sharon:

Yeah, that’s exactly right, yeah, that’s right. But when you’re classically trained in the skill of PR often you do talk about those emergencies and looking at it from a slightly different perspective of what happens to your plans when there’s floods or there’s a war that breaks out, because clearly…

Fiona:

Bushfires?

Sharon:

Yeah, bushfires, I was going to get on to that shortly. But you read my mind, but it’s one of those things that you get taught. Okay, we’ll have to respond to that etcetera. And then it’s just a delay in your plans. But no one ever prepares you. No single PR training course or degree or whatever will ever tell you that your crisis is gonna last at least six months to a year.

No one..

Fiona:

True. Well, it will now.

Sharon:

So now, exactly, so no one really preps you for that.

However, you’ll just find that, in PR, it does attract a certain type of personality. People that are quite positive, creative, agile and all of these skills as you said, are really, really critical for dealing with a crisis situation.

And I think, I think what I’ve seen, which is really important, I think that’s across the board, and I think in a crisis PR, and the marketing arm in the marketing team need to stay calm, that’s so important that they stay calm. We have to, as hard as that might be…

Fiona:

Keeps that rational thinking right?

Sharon:

It really does, it does… And calm leadership, particularly is so important. And I can’t say I was like that. I’ve learned so much through this.

You know, in a week or two, my poor, poor team. Honestly, I think they were seeing me at my worst, and we’re all human, and that’s fine, and I learned from that. But I think just staying as calm as possible, is really, really important I think. And this is across the board for people for brands being really honest and transparent.

We don’t have all the answers, but don’t go to ground. And not say anything.

Fiona:

Sure, actually we’ll get on to brands on a little bit, but I just want to back up for a minute. And just say from your point of view, what do you think this crisis entirety has affected the PR industry in general, do you think? Because you said you feel like you’re fared better the most?

What do you think is actually happening out there in the PR industry now?

Sharon:

Look, I don’t think any agencies or any PR teams are immune to this. I think everyone’s taken some kind of a hit, whether it’s a small agency or a large agency. I was speaking to a head of an agency just yesterday, one of the global agencies and their struggle’s there for sure. There’s no question.

I think that it’s come down to which area and how diversified I suppose, your portfolio is…

Fiona:

Okay.

Sharon:

If you’ve got brands that are… you’ve got an agency that only supports brands in travel or in hospitality, you’re in a lot of trouble…

Fiona:

True. You gotta pivot.

Sharon:

You gotta pivot. You’re gonna be struggling for sure. For us, we’ve got quite a diversified portfolio brands, we do specialise in a couple of areas, but certainly that diversity has allowed us to keep going, because not all of our clients have been as… I suppose… what’s the word I’m looking for? Just exposed, I guess, not as exposed, you know.

And so, therefore they can continue and we can continue but I think this, the PR industry on the whole has definitely taken a hit because at the moment, our bread and butter in many ways is media… media cut through and to get media a cut through, is…

Fiona:

Oh my goodness, yes.

Sharon:

Impossible. So your media relations part of the business, if that’s all you do, and you do that for hospitality for…events, yeah that’s gonna be really, really tough for you. So again…

Fiona:

Are there some industries that are faring well?

Sharon:

Yes, so if you are in FMCG and you’ve got the toilet paper…

Fiona:

If you’re selling toilet paper, tissues and if you’re selling flour or anything that makes bread…

Sharon:

Real staples and FMCG and has been a halo effect as well. So the brands that aren’ necessarily… your sort of day-to-day, staples, they’ve also seen an uplift because people are spending more time in the store, just shopping ’cause there is nothing else to do.

So they’re picking up more stuff…

Fiona:

We’re not allowed to go anywhere…

Sharon:

So, that’s exactly right. So then you’re like, “Ooh okay, I will try that smoked trout that I’ve never had before, or I… Yes, so is this is the real halo effect on other brands, but the FMCG is faring really well, you know, cleaning…

What else is there? There’s a number of…

Fiona:

Software, technology?

Sharon:

Exactly, technology is doing brilliantly.

Fiona:

Everyone would like to be on Zoom’s account at this point. Or Microsoft Teams…?

Sharon:

To be fair, they’ve had their fair share of PR problems as of late. Their PR team would be busy.

So think it is, it’s is really, there’s two things of how the industry has been affected and that is your skill set.

So if you really reliant on media relations that’s gonna be really tough and the industries that you work in. So some will be absolutely thriving, and I know some FMCG brands that are just looking for new things to do, looking for that kind of building even more momentum because they felt that spike and now it’s like, well, what happens, we’ve got to keep that going.

So, I think the industry… some areas have taken a massive hit and then others not so much. They’re faring okay, it’s just more… It’ll be really interesting ’cause there’s about, just in Sydney alone there’s about 400 agencies… PR agencies. So, I’ll be really…

Fiona:

Oh wow.

Sharon:

A little known fact. And so it’ll be really interesting to see how agencies will fare and who will stay and who will go, because the barrier to entry into agency land is actually quite low.

But equally, it is, it is… sadly.

Fiona:

No, you’re absolutely right, the barrier to a lot of marketing jobs is quite low… unfortunately… can you use Facebook, and do you have a pulse? Yes, you could get a job in marketing. It’s alright, I know, but I know about the low bar. So obviously, it’s in PR as well.

Sharon:

And I think that this is really clean that out which I’m pretty excited about, so…

Fiona:

It’s gonna be interesting to see how… what happens to the industry and what it’s gonna look like in 6 months?

Sharon:

I think it’s the same for all industries will be really… I think all of that, all of the plans that agencies had to get into new areas, etc, all of that is being accelerated at the moment. So we had a sort of three to five-year plan, but we’re doing all sorts of things now, that we weren’t doing two months ago.

We’re editing video is for our clients, we are doing, we are doing Zoom interviews… We’re creating content, we’re hosting end-to-end webinars, we’re doing these things.

Fiona:

You’ve gotta be where it is right?

Sharon:

Where it is and that’s actually really exciting, for us, thankfully, we kind of… just by luck…and I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and we had a conversation about that. Actually, I was looking for a digital marketing specialist for about a year to join our team and he just joined.

Fiona:

They’re not easy to find.

Sharon:

He’s just joined our team, Feb 1st. The poor man has been on our team for one month before this hits but it’s brilliant, because we’ve got a new skill set that we can offer.

Yeah, and I think the video editing, we weren’t doing that as a small agency, so now we are, so it’s really cool, it’s nice that we’ve diversified but all of our plans are being accelerate and I think that any agency worth its weight will be pushing “go” on that right now and moving forward a lot faster to survive this time.

Fiona:

Yeah, I’d just like to come back around on what you are talking about in terms of the PR skills, because you mentioned and I’d like to probably just pick your brain a little bit about the process, ’cause obviously, you had to do crisis management for all of your clients when this happened and you mentioned the first step in that process was kind of like just being calm and just taking a step back and not acting to quickly…

Just walk me through it, what are those steps, what are those skills and what are those steps? When you have a crisis?

Sharon:

Look, I think there’s a level of EQ… That’s really important in this, I think this is where the real robot versus human side of things come out. I think just…

Fiona:

It’s not gonna take over PR just yet?

Sharon:

It’s not happening any time soon. I think just understanding that were are some of my clients who I couldn’t get a hold of for two days, they were in such a state of shock. I had a couple of them that their entire pipeline of work was cancelled for the year.

So you can imagine how that feels. And we were midway through their campaign.

That human conversation or just picking up the phone and saying, “Hey I’ve put, I have put us on pause right now because I know… Yeah, that things are…

Fiona:

That’s what needs to be done.

Sharon:

That’s what needs to be done right now for you and I want you to take a couple of days and just think about where your business is at and let’s chat because I’ve got some ideas for you and I wanna help.

And I came at it from that angle for all of my clients, not necessarily putting their campaign on hold because it may not have made sense for them specifically, but for these couple of clients it did.

Fiona:

So you press pause…

Sharon:

You press pause, exactly, so you take stock and you go… Look let’s have that human conversation and see where you’re actually at. For me to keep pushing my agenda, it’s just wrong, it’s just not the time to do that. And yes, I have staff, and yes, I have my own company to look after, and my own agency. But at the end of the day, your clients need to be there at the other side as well, so you need to take care of them.

And so for me it was… I put my clients even before I put the agency 150% and just stopped, had those conversations and just said okay “What do you need?” And also “Here are three ideas of what I think you could do and some took those ideas on board and others were in too much of a state of shock that just couldn’t really process the need to pivot.

And then they did two or three weeks later when they processed and understood things.

So those skills…

Fiona:

I guess, everyone was in shock.

Sharon:

Me included, but I think it’s actually surprising. So, yes, I may not have been so calm, but what was interesting was that strategic mind kicked in complete over-drive. It was such a nice surprise for me I was like, “Woah, who is this person? Where did you come from?”.

I’m not saying I wasn’t strategic before, but it was just on overdrive and it was amazing to kind of just get in that mindset and just get down into the depths of the client’s business and understand where it’s at and help them to communicate to re-strategise, and to move forward.

And I think those skills are a pretty critical in a crisis, I think, yeah, coming back to not just personally having those skills, but I think just overall being honest and being transparent. I was keeping my team also aware of what’s going on and keeping them calm and telling them what my agenda for them is, which was to keep their jobs, whatever that looked like.

That’s what I wanted to do.

Yeah, so that was a priority. So that was a goal and calm too. The scariest thing is to face this idea of being made redundant and I can tell you across media, across agencies, it was just waves and waves and they continue today. Waves of redundancies. And that’s just terrifying to go through and I don’t think you can really do a great job of be at your best if you don’t know what’s going on. So I think just being transparent and being honest is just, it’s these are values that I really align with and adhere to. Yeah.

Fiona:

Amazing. No, that is so important during the crisis, it can never be understated into the importance of the open and clear and just transparent communication. It’s all nice and well to communicate when you have good news, but when the news is uncertain and not so good that is when your communication skills really need to shine.

Sharon:

Yep 100%. And look, you have to understand that you won’t necessarily get it right all the time.

We’re human we make mistakes. And same goes from marketing teams, same goes for brands, they don’t always get it quite right, but it’s more how you respond to that to don’t put your head in the sand and think this is just it’s just a bit of noise it will go away.

No, you have to address it. You have to continue communicating and there is a lot to be said about taking feedback on board, we’ve taken it on board, and we’ve change things, you know, we have… people love that and I eat people love that response, they love to be heard, they need to be listened to and I think that’s so important during a time of crisis of what are people telling you? And we’ve got so many listening tools now and so many ways to communicate, you’ve gotta take advantage of that.

If you’ve got to just be able to pick up on that sentiment and run with it and work with that, and be really agile. And this is where some of the brands we’ve worked with to have been just… yeah.

Fiona:

Yeah, I wanted to ask you about that in terms of, from facing a crisis and now we’re several weeks in and turning things around. Have some clients, continued, I mean, how long was that time between stop, pivot, re-strategise and get things moving again. Has anyone got anything moving again, or what kind of time period is that?

Sharon:

Like I mentioned, the shock and the immediate stop-and-hold, and blah, blah, blah. That literally happened over a week, or two at the very beginning. And then there was just this calmness all of a sudden, “Okay, what’s going…?” “What just happened to… what is going on?” Everyone was like… “What has happened to our world?”

And so it’s sort of in that time frame that you go into that over-drive of okay, I know what I’m dealing with right now, I know what I’m looking at. And I think this is where the government was really good actually, I have to say, I’ve been quite impressed with how they’ve handles their PR and just the way they’ve communicated regularly. And again, they may have not got some things right. Some things have been done, right? There’s no rule book to an epidemic.

Fiona:

Yep, we’ll talk about cruise ships shortly…

Sharon:

Exactly but here I think that there’s that period where you kind of settle into a new crazy groove and you go… Okay, I know we’re on that. I know I what I’m dealing with. Okay, for the next three to six months, I think this is what it’s going to look like.

So what do we do from here? And this is where that creativity, and that agility, really comes into it. So that’s when we sat down with our clients, and this maybe wouldn’t have happened on the same day, but different days and just really understanding where they’re at and saying, Okay, so for example, we work with an incredible single malt Whiskey brand, from the States.

We went into this idea of… people are really enjoying just, having a drink at home.

They’re making food, etc.. And the brands called Westward. So we made it a Westward Whiskey Wednesdays and we started this whole trend, and we got a lot of Influencers involved, and we sent them bottles, and they could create the content that they wanted to, and we just started those hashtags and started that content for them to re-purpose on their own channels, and that was tasteful because it was fun, it was not…

There’s a fine line between opp… and I’ll get into that, but there’s a fine line between opportunistic and doing something that’s still tasteful in a crisis and that is the real value in itself just to be able to understand the sentiment and not take the wrong step forward because that’s easy to do as well.

Fiona:

No, of course, the thing is… I’m glad we’re starting to talk about what some companies and brands are doing because we’ve seen some good PR during this crisis that’s come through, and we have seen terrible PR, especially from the cruise ships, who may not have handled the situation as best they could. And… so… no, it’s great, I guess getting those influencers involved and getting brands… and it’s a fine line between taking advantage of this crisis and people in lock down and also promoting a brand, in a way that doesn’t put people off.

Sharon:

Oh yeah, absolutely, I think during a crisis, one of the things, for me the number one rule is –

Don’t be tone deaf.

What you had planned, and what was working for you then is probably not going to work for you now. So stop doing that.

Fiona:

Well, that’s really hard to do…

Sharon:

Right, and I think you just have to understand that it’s okay to park those things. It doesn’t mean that all that work that’s gone into a campaign, can’t be used somewhere down… you know, you will… but you need to just not be tone deaf.

You cannot ignore what’s going on and just put your head in the sand, and especially during COVID. You couldn’t, I mean, it was everywhere, as you’d be crazy to try and ignore it.

Fiona:

And especially you couldn’t really use some words. I mean, I know Google and YouTube have been blocking and social media has been blocking the use of some words because it’s been associated with spreading false information so you had to really quickly know, what you can and can’t say, and yeah, what kind of keywords you can use? So I guess it’s just reading the market and reading exactly is going on…

Sharon:

Again, it comes back to that being human, that understanding of, Okay, having that sensitivity of… If I say this, what kind of reaction am I likely to get… How is that going to… How is that going to fare with my audience and understanding them.

If your audience is a certain type… maybe they’ve lost their jobs. They don’t care about your product…

Fiona:

They’re at the bottom.

Sharon:

So just it comes back to the absolute golden rule of actually understanding your audience and your audience behaviour, which I think… so many marketers forget, I don’t know how, but so many marketers do.

It’s incredible how many have new clients who come to us and I’ll say… So, who are you targeting who is your target audience?

And I’m just here just… everybody!

Fiona:

Everybody can buy our product/ service. Yes, everybody can…

Sharon:

Yes, but they won’t.

So it’s about knowing them and really understanding where they’re at. And then you can start… where they spend time… what their behaviours are… their likely behaviours during this time? Are they shift workers? Are the health workers? Are they… who are they? So how can you speak to that right now?

And then, that’s gotta come into it. And that comes back to that second rule of just… don’t be opportunistic… ever.

It’s just not in a cri… No, I mean, yeah… be opportunistic in general, in a normal world, but not…

Fiona:

But not related to a pandemic…

Sharon:

Not at all. And so, we saw some brands like Louis Vuitton, for example, taking their perfume manufacturing facility and turning that into a hand sanitiser… you know… brilliant stuff.

And there’s been some amazing brands that have done some great stuff. That’s just clever… it’s smart… it’s not opportunistic. It was just smart, and their marketing that came off the back of that, was just organic. They didn’t really push their message. That was part of their value system.

And so I feel like brands who stick to their values during this time as well, do a really great job. And I know that’s…

Fiona:

And knowing what you value…

Sharon:

Our values guided me as well. I didn’t have a guide book of how to run the agency during this time, but what was loud and clear…

Fiona:

No, I don’t think anyone did…

Sharon:

…was honesty, transparency… those things that are part of our value system at the agency. So I think the brands that work through and a lot of times we just say, “Oh what’s values? It’s just mumbo jumbo… but doesn’t… No values are everything, absolutely everything is being proven to me massively.

So, I think operating through your values during a time of crisis is critical, and if all of sudden, values don’t feel right, it just means that you were never aligned to those values and you need to re-look at that, when the right time comes, but pay attention to those things. How did you behave?

Because those are the real values, those are the true values of the brand, so…

Fiona:

So actions always, they always shine through.

Sharon:

Absolutely… and I think brands, having that calm and honest, as we were saying before, calm and honest communications. I think that’s critical in a crisis.

And measuring that consumer sentiment towards your brand and kind of pivoting your comms to that, and when it starts to head back into that normal “time” your communications change.

So we kind of have to just weigh things up on a weekly basis. That’s what we’re doing at the moment.

Fiona:

Well, Sharon, the thing is it looks like the dust is starting to settle, I mean, certainly in Australia, it looks like the dust is starting to settle. We’re coming into May and… We’ve had this crisis, we’ve had this lock down for several weeks and restrictions are starting to ease and it looks like we may be coming to a new kind of normal.

Is it time that businesses who can get through this really look into PR and really invest in PR?

Sharon:

I can say what we’ve done… there’s been one client who’s been a really interesting case study for us, and I think this will speak to point here. So we work with a lot of authors and thought leaders and speakers or brands who want to build their thought leadership. So we’ve been working with a property buying expert who launched a book that they published, with a global publisher, on April 1. So, that’s when his book… yep…

Fiona:

Oh no…

Sharon:

April Fool’s Day!

Fiona:

Them… and Malcolm Turnbull I think…

Sharon:

So… and we’d already started on the campaign and I just said, to… his name is Lloyd Edge, he is a wonderful guy, and I said, To Lloyd, it’s just not time to promote your book right now, but what I suggest that we do is, I know you’ve got a long-term goal of becoming the go-to person for property buying, what you need to do right now… forget about your book. So just forget about your book.

You need to be a sort of that helpful, expert in property right now and you need to be everywhere.

And so our strategy completely changed and what we did was we had him write, hand-written letters. Who does that? But hand-written letters that’s right…

Fiona:

Does that still exist?

Sharon:

It does in our world now.

And we got him to write hand-written letters with his book and send it to all of the key property writers, just to say, Hey, hi, how are you doing? Right. That went to them and…

Fiona:

…give them something to read during the crisis.

Sharon:

Great, I’ve got a new book wonderful. However, what I want to connect with you about is anything you need for your stories. I know you’re under the pump, anything you need, that’s going to help round out your story with expert comments. I’m there for you.

So I basically, if you Google his name, he’s been featured over the last month or so. Just about all the top tier media, that’s written about property at this time and what’s happening. He was there for any time there was a new announcement or restriction… you know… the open houses, you couldn’t do that anymore, so we went out straight to media and said “Hey, here is Lloyd, he’s got his three points of what’s gonna happen.

We got him into every single one of these top publications talking about what to do in these times. He was helpful. And that’s what you need to add value, and that is a good lesson for any brand.

And so, now…

Fiona:

Not even just in a crisis… just in general…

Sharon:

Love that. And for him, part of the strategy was to create those long-term relationships that he will just be that go-to person.

Now, if you look at news.com.au and Google “Lloyd Edge”, you’ll see a story that ran yesterday and guess what? It was all about him and his book. It was a beautiful, full profile feature, about him and his book, and what he’s done and he’s got an incredible story.

And so, the point of my story, is that, it was time to be helpful, but now, and this is what we’ve been saying to him as well….we can start refocusing. Things are starting to calm down, we can go back..

Fiona:

As we open up, yeah…

Sharon:

Yeah, we can start your program in earnest, that we had in mind in the first place, when you came on board. And media will be a lot more responsive because people also wanna read something else, however you still need to be sensitive and have that COVID lens.

So when we’re pitching in, it wouldn’t be just a normal pitch. Hey, this is a teacher who went from earning $60,000 a year, to now having a property portfolio of 16 properties and which would be the usual pitch.

But this time, this time, we were like… No, yes, absolutely. You’ve got to look at the lens. And, where are you. What’s your environment now?

Yes, reading the tone of the situation. So yeah, so he is coming at it now from the pitch that we’re going for is, it’s about what happens now in recovery.

What should you…

Fiona:

This is the thing, people are now starting to search for… what is gonna happen to property? Is it gonna go down? Is it gonna go up? What are these new restrictions put in, now that people are starting to look forward and they’re gonna be looking for content to answer these questions…

Sharon:

Reading the market and making the decisions at the right times. And so now this… Now, there’s a way back, but you still have to be relevant. So you can’t… again… don’t be tone deaf.

Use the hooks in the right way.

So yeah, if you’ve got something to say about recovery in your sector, in your area, that’s a platform for your own message, it is, and that’s the fine, that’s not opportunistic, that’s smart. So I think, again, those other points that I made before still come into it, but yes, the dust has settled a little bit, and I think we can…

It’s not normal by any stretch, I’m not saying “Hey go out and do a full blown campaign. You still need to be really, really smart about how you’re doing it, but I think that things…

Fiona:

Maybe cancel the book tour?

Sharon:

It’s all about virtual book tours now.

Yeah, I think it’s just about being clever and reading the market and then finding those right times and using the right hooks, but we’re certainly seeing a little bit more of a shift which is lovely, to see. But no, by no stretch are we out of this.

Fiona:

We really don’t know how long this is really gonna impact us?

Sharon:

Understand that we have to start planning and preparing and moving forward. Maybe not as quickly as we usually do, but definitely moving forward.

Fiona:

Yeah, I think a lot of businesses now are going to add a new line in their SWOT analysis under threats detailing worldwide global pandemic and economic slowdown, is a new threat that they need to be prepared for.

Oh my goodness, fun times ahead. But like you said, we need to stay focused on the positives, we need to. Things will open up things will get back to some kind of normal and… Yeah, we just have to read the market, read what’s happening in the community, and pivot and make changes and test messaging, test messaging. And like you said, sometimes we’ll get it wrong, but sometimes we’ll get it right and you gotta just keep moving forward.

Sharon:

This will be a real time to reflect too. It’s a real wake-up call. It’s a time to reflect on how you’ve handled the situation, what were your strengths, what were your weaknesses?

Same for your brand, same for your company, and the people around you because it’s really flushed all of that out.

It’s really interesting to see and I think that if you can take that as a learning and take advantage of those things and work on those things, you’ll come out stronger than ever before because if you make it through this and make it through it, you know what, well, you can face it, everything else is going to seem laughable now. Honestly, honestly.

Fiona:

Yeah, I think so, I think you may be right.

Wow, your insights today have been phenomenal. Thank you so much for coming on this marketing life and talking about PR in a crisis and everything that you and your business are going through. It’s been… the insights have been fantastic.

Sharon:

Thank you so much for having me on.

Fiona:

Now, if somebody wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way?

Sharon:

Yeah, we’re at agent99pr.com. You can drop me an email at any time. Sharon at agent 99 pr dot com. And certainly all of the details on our website, and our socials.

Fiona:

Great, great, well, thanks again. Stay safe. Stay sane. And I’m sure we will talk again, thanks so much Sharon.


Provide Feedback

What would you like to hear about in regards to Marketing Management? Fill in this 2 minute survey HERE

Sign Up to Receive New Episodes

Spread the marketing love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *