• Emily Garnham

Good examples of PR and communications in response to coronavirus

Updated: Mar 18

PR and marketing now requires extreme delicacy; it’s very easy for businesses to overstep the line into the realms of blatant opportunism.

Now Covid-19 has been classified by the World Health Organisation as a pandemic, and its impact on business and the world economy is becoming ever more apparent, many businesses are having to get creative for survival.


Events are going virtual, airlines and tour operators are offering greater flexibility on travel, and the high street is innovating.


Any PR and marketing campaigns launched now require extreme delicacy; it’s very easy for businesses to overstep the line into the realms of blatant opportunism, as we've already seen with "alarmist" ads for face masks.


We think these examples, from a range of different businesses, are sensible responses that neither evoke hysteria, nor fan the flames:


1. Beauty and skincare brand L’Occitane has issued a newsletter inviting any member of the public to drop into any of their high street stores to wash their hands with soap. Not once does their newsletter mention the virus by name; it is merely implied.


2. British Airways has announced it will waiving change fees on bookings made in March and, if customers need to cancel, it will offer vouchers worth the full value of that flight, valid for 12 months. Its newsletters also say it will increase cleaning teams and audit inspections for aircraft.


3. LinkedIn has launched 16 free courses to help those new to remote working learn how to be productive and engaged. And, if you try to search coronavirus on its platform, it pushes you to official updates only, such as those from WHO and international health departments, recommending readers “Get the facts”.


4. U.S. company Cisco is offering free 90-day business licenses of Webex. The perks of their deal includes unlimited usage and users being able to host virtual meetings with up to 100 participants. But it's not the only tech company offering such promotions. Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams are all making their software more widely accessible, too.


5. Deliveroo has announced it is launching a "no-contact drop-off service", meaning your driver will drop food off on your doorstep. Great for those in self-isolation, although I'm not sure many can say they regularly touch their delivery drivers...


6. Leon's latest newsletter warms the heart. The healthy fast food brand is offering a 50% discount to all NHS workers and free food deliveries to hospitals located near its restaurants. It's working on a plan for the elderly.

7. Sainsbury's latest newsletter, from its CEO Mike Coupe, lays out the supermarket's plans to support increased demand for food and other essentials. It includes allocating the first hour of opening for elderly and vulnerable customers only, more online slots for over 70s, more click and collect options for those who can drive, and sensible limits on essential items. Coupe signs off by thanking his colleagues for working flat out to serve customers "in difficult circumstances". It's brilliantly written, and strikes a proactive and reassuring tone. Have a read here.


And, in other news, the paparazzi are having to get used to their new line of work, in landscape photography.


If you found this blog useful, you might like our other post on how to communicate with customers as your business weathers COVID-19. Read it here.