Like so many industries, those in the world of PR and marketing have taken a huge hit this
year. This week, Wear Business asks leading figures in North-East PR how they have coped
during the pandemic.

Bev Walton, owner, Stick Marketing
Obviously, the pandemic hasn’t been great for many businesses and, in some cases of course, it’s been catastrophic. However, I would also say after the initial shock of lockdown, the clients we work with seem to be weathering the storm on the whole. Many have used the time to really scrutinise their business models, look at what’s working for them and what isn’t and, in some cases, seek new opportunities and new revenue streams. 

We’ve been able to help clients revamp and rebrand their websites, launch new products and reach new markets. From our own point of view, things have picked up a lot in the last couple of months and small businesses are seeing the value in digital marketing more than
ever now.

I think if there’s one thing we’ll take from the past six months, it’s how adaptable, resilient and upbeat our small business owners are here in the North-East, even when faced with the toughest of conditions.

Bryn Littleton, account director, Creo Communications
Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the way large swathes of industry operates. Many clients adopting work-from-home practices out of necessity have since embraced it as part of their culture – seeing increased productivity and happier employees with a healthier work-life balance. 

The pandemic forced flexibility, setting aside best-laid plans temporarily and focusing on immediate priorities. Creo did what we do best – we got creative for clients. Work was refocused from editing light-hearted social media content to creating "safe working” guides. A full summer events programme for one local authority was scrapped and replaced with a “response to a pandemic" publication. 

Messages were altered for some businesses whose niche products suddenly became solutions to social distancing in the construction industry…when the business landscape changes so dramatically, we all have to hustle.

From a safety point of view, Creo followed the guidance – we closed our offices, worked from home and stayed safe. We had Zooms with screaming kids, Skypes with barking dogs and turned dining tables and kitchen benches into fairly shoddy workspaces. But, like everyone else, we adapted, refocused and, to paraphrase The Beautiful South, carried on regardless.

Graeme Anderson, owner and director, GSA Media PR and Marketing
Covid-19 affected our clients in completely different ways – on some, it had no effect whatsoever; on others, it closed down their operation.

We had to put our PR service to a leading North-East hotel on pause, for example, simply because they were closed and had no income. We operated a goodwill service for them during the closure so their social media accounts stayed current.

When times get tough for business, the first budget that gets chopped tends to be PR and marketing. Surveys show that should be the last one to go because so many businesses can die when their profile does but it is human nature to circle the wagons and close down spending during a crisis.

The aid that the government provided to businesses has been helpful to us and our clients. The challenge for B2B and B2C businesses now is to raise their profile as well as their game in the hope of powering back slimmer and stronger.”

Bernice Saltzer, managing director, Sorted PR
We represent a whole host of leading hotels, bars and restaurants so naturally this was the first part of our business to be hit – if you’re not open then spending money on promoting yourselves is not a high priority.

We did continue to offer our support to them at no charge and now thankfully the majority of them have returned to us. During this period we were lucky enough to maintain a hardcore of clients and – completely unexpectedly – even won some new business.

We worked extensively for the care home industry during this period which naturally kept us extremely busy and we’re grateful our loyalty has been rewarded by clients who see the value of what we offer them. It’s easy to see PR as something that’s not a priority but there’s never been a more important time to keep aware of what you do in the public eye.”

Graham Robb, senior partner, Recognition PR
The beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic was difficult for all involved and brought with it many unexpected and unprecedented challenges for businesses. However, although the journey was not straightforward, my business has not only survived the pandemic, but it has been able to thrive.
 
Through adapting our services and getting back to the office as soon as it was safe to do so, we have increased the velocity of thought amongst staff members and provided our clients with a new sense of collaboration and collectiveness.
 
We have pioneered new methods of communication with clients, such as the launch of my executive fellowship calls, and proactively sought ways to increase connectivity amongst clients, on LinkedIn and other platforms. Consequently, not only is our client cohort growing, we have also worked with clients, such as Vertu Motors, to grow their own business, turning worrying projections into record highs in a matter of months.

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