When is It Necessary to Pivot a PR Strategy in Response to External Events?


    When is It Necessary to Pivot a PR Strategy in Response to External Events?

    In the fast-paced world of public relations, adaptability is key. We've gathered insights from Directors of Communications and CEOs on times they had to rapidly change their PR tactics in light of unforeseen events. From pivoting to an online event amid a pandemic to differentiating products from a competitor’s, explore five firsthand accounts of nimble PR strategy shifts and their outcomes.

    • Pivoted to Online Event Amid Pandemic
    • Differentiated Product From Competitor’s
    • Directly Reached Out to Community After Misunderstanding
    • Emphasized Client Safety Measures During Pandemic

    Pivoted to Online Event Amid Pandemic

    It's probably repetitive at this point, but the world shut down in 2020, a week before we were due to host our AI and Machine Learning Event featuring a biotech company. Instead of just canceling, I convinced my boss to pivot to an online event.

    It was successful! We had a decent 80% turnout, and it became our first AI video for our YouTube channel, which was in its infancy at the time. Then we all made the jump to virtual events.

    Sara SpivaDirector of Communications, Tech San Diego

    Differentiated Product From Competitor’s

    One instance where I had to pivot our PR strategy quickly was during the launch of a new technology product by one of our clients, which coincided unexpectedly with a major competitor announcing a similar, more advanced product just days before our planned announcement.

    Realizing the need to differentiate our client’s product quickly, we shifted our PR strategy to emphasize the unique aspects of our client's offering that were not present in the competitor's product. Specifically, we highlighted our product's superior user-friendly interface and its integration capabilities with other software, which were significant for our target market.

    We adapted our key messaging across all media communications and leveraged our strong media relationships to get feature articles and interviews that focused on these differentiating factors. We also organized a series of webinars and live demos with key influencers in the tech community to showcase the practical benefits of our product in real-world scenarios.

    The result was a successful shift in the narrative that focused on the distinct advantages of our client's product, rather than its similarities to the competitor's. This strategic pivot helped maintain the launch momentum and resulted in a positive media reception and robust initial sales figures. This experience reinforced the importance of flexibility in PR and the ability to quickly realign strategy and messaging to adapt to sudden market changes.

    Bruno Gavino
    Bruno GavinoFounder, CEO, CodeDesign

    Directly Reached Out to Community After Misunderstanding

    In the dynamic realm of public relations, adapting swiftly to unforeseen circumstances can be the difference between a campaign's success or failure. One instance that stands out involves a local restaurant chain client, whose reputation was inadvertently caught in a social media storm due to a misunderstanding over a promotional event. The situation required an immediate pivot in our PR strategy to mitigate the negative attention and clarify the restaurant's intentions.

    We quickly developed a campaign that involved direct engagement with the online community, issuing a clear and sincere statement from the client addressing the miscommunication, and outlining the positive values they stand for. To further demonstrate their commitment to the community, we also arranged for the client to host a series of local culinary events that showcased their involvement and dedication to local causes.

    The outcome was a resounding success. The swift response and positive actions taken by the restaurant chain not only quelled the initial concerns, but also generated a wave of supportive sentiment from the community. The client experienced a notable increase in traffic and brand loyalty, which underscored the power of a well-orchestrated PR pivot. This experience has been a testament to the agency's ability to turn challenges into opportunities by staying responsive and proactive in our PR efforts.

    Joshua Bartlett
    Joshua BartlettOwner, Double Plus Marketing

    Emphasized Client Safety Measures During Pandemic

    It was during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, we were focused on promoting new dental technologies and services, but with the outbreak, we shifted to emphasize how our clients were implementing enhanced safety measures and contributing to community efforts. This pivot was crucial in maintaining trust and relevance with our audience during uncertain times.

    The shift involved a series of targeted press releases, updated website content, and social media campaigns that highlighted the measures our clients were taking, such as virtual consultations and improved clinic sanitization practices. We also emphasized their donations of personal protective equipment to local hospitals, and participation in community health initiatives.

    This realignment of our PR strategy resulted in positive media coverage and an increase in community goodwill towards our clients. It positioned our clients as responsible and caring members of the community. This helped sustain patient loyalty and attracted new patients who were looking for safe dental care options during the pandemic.

    Ihor Lavrenenko
    Ihor LavrenenkoCEO, Dental SEO Expert