PR in a pandemic: Why candour in PR has never been more important

PR in a pandemic

As a profession, PR hasn’t always had the greatest reputation. The irony of that truth has always driven us to be challengers of that position.

Every piece of work we do for our clients is founded on candour.

We don’t do ‘spit and polish’ style PR and will challenge any project brief that asks for spin. To get results, we believe that creativity and strategy must be grounded in fact and authenticity.

In a world of ‘post-truth’ and fake news, it is helpful to remember that the world’s first code of ethics for PR (penned in 1929 by Basil Clarke, the founder of the UK’s first PR agency), said that PR:

“must look true and it must look complete and candid or its ‘credit’ is gone.”

Clarity, fairness, truth

And here we find ourselves, almost a century on, amidst a global pandemic. This new world demands clarity, fairness and truth from organisations and businesses more than ever.

At Analogy we have been busy advising our clients on if, how and when they should communicate. We have supported our clients to be even more responsive than ever, as the shifting sands around us increase the demand for clear, precise and timely communication.

Here in the south west of England, we have (so far) escaped the worst of the pandemic. But our clients’ customers and communities still need information to know how to keep safe. This applies whether they are prospective home buyers visiting Sherford, Devon’s new town, or whether they are ‘eating out to help out’ at Plymouth’s Royal William Yard.

Our clients span many sectors, but the principles of good communication are the same.

During the pandemic, our roles in community engagement and media relations have seen us consistently asking the same questions.

Is this relevant?

Is it useful?

Is it complete?

Is it clear?

Is it timely?

Candour equals trust

Looking around the news headlines, social media and marketing content that brands and public bodies have instigated during the pandemic, it is interesting to analyse which have been open, honest and frank in their communications, and which have not. The impact on trust and goodwill is palpable.

Advising our own clients has meant ensuring messages are consistently empathy-led and straightforward. Sometimes this means being candid with clients to get the tone right, at a time when even the most well-intentioned tweet or press comment could slip into ‘tone deaf’ territory.

Candour builds genuine trust. With our clients and their stakeholders alike.

What we will never do is simply tell clients what they want to hear.

In an industry that is addicted to saying ‘yes’, that might seem like a risky approach, but if we’re not willing to take risks, and be candid, to get results, doesn’t that say something?

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