For companies small and large, recent events have left decision-makers worried about what they should (or should not) say to their audiences. Many have even been questioning, is this the right time to do any kind of marketing, let alone PR?

It’s undoubtedly been a burning question asked by our clients. Contrary to what most may believe, audiences actually want to hear from brands and companies at this time, which affirms why companies should not necessarily go dark. In fact, our recent global survey (in partnership with Arlington Research) reveals more than a third of consumers worry that when a business has gone quiet during a pandemic, it’s a sign the company may be in financial trouble.

The reality is this: Implementing a smart PR strategy that is thoughtful and intentional will result in better outcomes. If you’re a company wrestling with whether PR and communications are viable during a pandemic, here are some considerations to think about when making this decision.

People are yearning to hear about news outside of COVID-19. The pandemic continues to weigh heavily on us all, and the news agenda hasn’t left us with a shortage of stories surrounding COVID-19. This is why it should come as no surprise more than half of Americans (surveyed in our recent report) are desperate for some news and content that isn’t related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In that same vein, almost half of audiences are consuming more content than ever at this time.

We all have our breaking point; here’s where your company’s communication efforts can offer some form of escape from our tough reality. Creating interesting and compelling content and securing media coverage is a great way to do this, especially if it’s content that evokes emotion and a desire to learn more. This will also enhance your company’s brand awareness and extend your footprint as an industry thought-leader.

Here’s an opportunity to further understand your audience. Smart businesses have already communicated with their customers and partners, but how can you take it a step further to understand what they’re thinking, and more importantly, how they’re feeling?

Leveraging polls and surveys are a great way to peel back the layers of what your audience is experiencing right now. You’re not only about to gain perspective and insights as to how they’re being impacted, but this type of discovery also makes to tell a unique story – something the media craves. Your findings can prompt fresh ideas and recommendations, all of which can be pulled together and shared strategically through a series of content such as a report, infographic, or even a virtual webinar, which can ultimately attract new prospects.

Source airways to untapped industries. As we’ve discovered with many of our tech-focused clients, while many industries like travel and retail have experienced a huge downtrend in business due to COVID-19, other industries such as education and e-commerce have seen a different demand. For companies providing a horizontal service or product (such as SaaS-based business models), this presents an opportunity to show value within sectors that were not necessarily on their radars before COVID-19.

Cultivating a vertical-specific strategic communications strategy can engage new audiences and new business opportunities. This might include creating educational, thought leadership with actionable solutions to industry challenges.

Despite the difficult times we’re facing, the power of human connection knows no bounds. This is where companies must consider how public relations can be an integral function of maintaining or even improving business. Brands must stay present and in touch with audiences today to continue authentic dialogue tomorrow.  It’s about striking the right balance, giving people what they desire; it’s the power of market influence through PR that keeps smart companies thriving and surviving during the thick of it all.