How does the hybrid working mode in the post-pandemic era challenge the PR industry?

Media OutReach - 05 Sep 2022

Hybrid working mode nowadays

Hybrid working modes are growing in prevalence, with many forward-thinking businesses adapting to the impacts posed by the global pandemic. The combination of in-office and remote work offers optimal flexibility and, potentially, better work-life balance for professionals working in many different fields.

However, for an industry like PR, which relies much on people-to-people relationships, implementing a hybrid working mode can be challenging. It is difficult to have seamless team communications from a distance when members are scattered in different locations with various time zones but expected to collaborate closely in real time.

The post-pandemic era challenges for the PR industry

Lack of face-to-face communication

It goes without saying that the pandemic has seemingly thrown the traditional PR playbook into disarray with increased difficulties in nurturing relationships through in-person encounters. COVID-19 waves brought about lockdowns and social distancing restrictions that prohibit PRs from building external relationships and establishing seamless communications. With people being out of the office, it is burdensome to connect with the right person on the phone. The prolonged cancellation of events and large-scale business conferences, which are supposed to bring limitless in-person networking opportunities, are also hitting the PR industry hard. All combined, it results in the loss of overall work efficiency, media relationships and business revenues. However, even as we navigate into a phase of recovery from the virus outbreak, communications and work efficiency challenges prevailed with the global adaptation of the virtual “new normal” working modes. Clients, partners and media professionals remain to be more accustomed to digital methods of communication instead of face-to-face interactions.

Difficult to maintain seamless and effective client communications

Another important business function of PR professionals is to facilitate client communication and manage their expectations. One of the major pain points in the PR industry is that clients are often not on the same ground with the agencies which are addressing their needs. Before the pandemic, the industry’s best practice is to keep a seamless, consistent line of communication with clients, often with face-to-face meetings. This is extremely effective in ensuring all stakeholders are staying current and aligned on project-related issues and goals.

While good PR does not come overnight, relationship-building is a consistent process that takes months or even years. The transition to virtual meetings and collaboration makes things much harder under a hybrid working mode, especially when it comes to coordinating with teammates and clients from afar.

Obstacles in helping clients to achieve communications goal

The impact of the global pandemic to the PRs is not just on their working mode, but also on how they help clients to achieve communications goal. Public relation is a long-term engagement that requires effort in order to be successful. However, the pandemic has made physical PR events nearly impossible. Thus, it became one of the biggest obstacles for the PRs in helping clients’ branding and media relationship building efforts. An effective solution to this communications gap is for the PRs to issue press releases written with SEO purpose. A well-executed press release is a powerful brand building tool for their clients to engage with stakeholders from the media, investors, and the public.

Tips for hybrid working mode

With the hybrid working mode being the rave of the moment, here are some tips for PR professionals to navigate through this transformative era.

Refresh your contact database

First, make an extra effort to update your contact database for the sake of media relationships. In the PR industry, your media contacts are your valued assets. The media landscape has obviously shifted during the pandemic. It is important for you to take the initiative and keep up with the myriad of moves being made by media professionals in the post-pandemic era.

Make sure your database is up to date with relevant contacts. From job and news beat changes to new hires, transfers and relocations, reach out to your existing contacts with seamless communication and expand your database to emerging, new media contacts. Getting in touch with media is a gesture that shows your enthusiasm of working with them whenever they are available and, oftentimes, opening doors for future partnerships.

Keep everything updated

The key to re-establish work efficiency is to keep everyone back in the loop with maximum openness and transparency. Take time and schedule regular check-ins with your remote team members and clients, ideally before kickstarting a project.

Check-ins or regular meetings allow you to better manage any cooperation by keeping the lines of communication open. Through increased communication, your team and clients are provided with a ground to share any concerns or questions, get clearer explanations, and set up realistic goals or timelines together.

Chances are that hybrid working mode is here to stay. PR leaders and professionals should focus on acting on the tips above that can help get the most out of the new trend and thrive.

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