public relations

If you’re like me, when COVID-19 first hit pandemic proportions and we were instructed to stay home and stay away, I started receiving emails from businesses whose cookies I had removed from my computer last century. Some of whom I had the vaguest memory of ordering a gift or some essential replacement part for a gizmo that has since made its way to the aisles of Goodwill. Who are these companies? Like ghosts of Christmas gift purchases past here they are telling me how much I mean to them and pledging their dedication to me to keep me safe during this time. Where have you been?

If your editorial calendar indicates sending out a mass email only when pandemics hit, then fire your digital marketing officer, and your PR director too. What have they been doing all this time? Yeah, yeah, the corporate letter is important at these times, I know, but not to people with whom you have basically kicked to the curb.

To you companies I patronized once in my life, you’ve essentially broken up with me by letting our relationship wither and die after just one date. You haven’t called, you never write, and now you want me to know how much you’ve been thinking about me? Ha! Call me Gloria Gaynor when I say, “I should have changed that stupid lock, I should have made you leave your key, if I’d known for just one second you’d be back to bother me.” (Yes, I did need to sing that aloud to get the words right.)


Take heed of these simple tips to avoid so much social distancing in your editorial calendar:

  1. Remove people from your list who aren’t clicking or opening your emails. This is a simple fix. They just aren’t that into you. They found you once and know how to find you again if they ever need you.
  2. If you are interested in taking the relationship to the next level, then do it right.
    • Create a drip campaign that gives them value-added information, it doesn’t just sell, sell, sell. A monthly email might be all you need and use it to focus on your customers and their experiences.
    • If they opt out, let them and don’t be a stalker about getting them back. If you want to subtly keep in touch with them, then occasionally drop them a line with a holiday greeting. Include an incentive for coming back. If they don’t open that, then stop before they shelve you like spam.
    • Vary your communication style. Emails are great but if they also are able to Like you in their Facebook feeds or re-Pin your photos to their Pinterest boards, they will value you as a reliable friend who they bump into often.
    • Be of service. Use your communication channels to share what you are doing in the community and for your customers. Letting them know you care all the time will naturally lead-up to your pandemic newsletter. It is as a congruent part of your editorial calendar.
  1. Don’t be conspicuously absent. On the other side, there have been some companies I frequent often—online and in real life—who haven’t published a peep. They had been sending at least a monthly email, plus special alerts. I’ve heard they’re open even though I haven’t needed them yet. I’ve heard from their competitor, even ogled the other’s merchandise. Hmm, the silence does make me wonder. I guess we’re on a break … or maybe I’ll send a get well message to their social media coordinator.

The key here is don’t be lazy when it comes to public relations. Set an editorial calendar that works through the good times and the bad times … that’s what friends are for. Thank you for saying so, Dionne Warwick.

Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and businesses of all shapes and sizes. Sign-up on her website today to receive helpful insights like this one in your inbox.  See how easy your efforts can be here

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