The media has covered COVID-19 ad nauseum for the past several months, perpetuating a negative narrative and obscuring the good that is happening in many senior communities.
As such, public relations has never been more important to senior living and should be a critical component of marketing budgets for 2021.
While some companies in other arenas have cut back their PR budgets during the pandemic, reasoning that it strikes a deaf tone, stories about safeguarding, uplifting and re-energizing humanity during a worldwide pandemic have the singular ability to hit all the right notes. What’s more, maintaining and/or restoring reputation in the face of a virus that disproportionately affects seniors is paramount.
But damage control is far from the whole story.
People are hungry for good news about essential employees and everyday heroes. They want to know what companies on the front lines are doing to better society, improve or save lives, respond to needs on a daily basis. Senior living is in the unique position to show them by leveraging PR across multiple media.
PR can do more now than show the world how you’re creating new ways to preserve residents’ health and safety, their personal engagement, socialization, and overall happiness and well-being (as if that weren’t enough!).
Like no other communications tactic in these unimaginable times, public relations highlights, celebrates and generates programs and incentives to reinvigorate weary nursing staff, burned out physicians, over-taxed discharge planners and case workers, hindered activities directors.
Even more powerful, PR is the social distance tool that can unite residents, staff, families, prospects, and others in a time when traditional means of connection are no longer possible. The synergistic effect of good news and good will upon your internal and external stakeholders is extraordinary.
From a disciplinary standpoint, the strengths of public relations are tailor-made for the situation in which we currently find ourselves. PR is a natural fit before, during and after crisis. Here are some reasons why:
- PR is purpose-driven, not profit-driven. Long before “content marketing” entered the communications lexicon, public relations meant sharing information of value and meaning to audiences on its face, without a sales agenda.
- PR focuses on community, not consumerism. “More than ever right now, brands have the opportunity to win hearts and minds by earning a place in people’s lives,” remarked the founder of an award-winning PR agency. Indeed, people are looking to businesses to inform, advise and display more concern for their well-being than their expenditures. The need for truth, transparency and authenticity is paramount, and PR organically meets that need.
- PR can be delivered quickly. Social media and digital news platforms allow relevant messages to be conveyed almost immediately. What’s more, they can be updated and adjusted just as readily as circumstances and attitudes change.
- PR is bound to a code of ethics. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), of which IVY Marketing Group is a long-standing member, requires PR professionals to uphold such core values as advocacy, honesty, loyalty and objectivity.
- PR reflects culture, not corporations. PR has a finger on the pulse of the current zeitgeist at all times. Good PR observes, listens, reports and responds to the concerns of everyday people, not the unseen, unrelatable figures in ivory towers.
- PR is more affordable than advertising. Unlike ad campaigns that can take months and even more dollars to develop, public relations campaigns – or even a single press release – are economical and flexible. Stories can be used on various platforms, including websites, social media, digital and print media outlets. Eyeballs come across them because they’re naturally drawn to them – unlike many ads.
- PR can help you weather the next storm. Once your brand has been established as benevolent and trustworthy through good PR (as defined by the criteria above), you’re in a much better position going forward, even if another crisis comes along.
The time for public relations is now, when its all-encompassing impact has never been greater. PR is no longer an “add-on” consideration – it’s a vital essential.
As you’re planning your marketing budget for 2021 and making important financial decisions, be sure to include public relations delivered by our award-winning, PRSA-certified team of specialists for 30 years.
IVY MARKETING GROUP. COME GROW WITH US.