Positive PR during the COVID-19 crisis

Read our latest blog written by our Communications Director, Ashlea McConnell.

Lockdown, as it is now commonly known, has had a pretty significant impact on everyone.

Whether you are considered a key worker and are therefore commuting to deliver vital front line services, on furlough, or officially ‘working from home’ and embracing the likes of Skype and Microsoft Teams in order to speak to colleagues and clients, chances are your life has changed due to COVID-19.

Quick trips to the shops, family meals at favourite restaurants, and leisurely BBQs with neighbours over bank holiday weekends are but a distant memory. And it does not look as though things will return to normal any time soon.

Yet despite the obvious it remains business as usual for many sectors. Particularly, in my own personal experience, the legal industry.

Not without its initial challenges of course – take conveyancing as an example, which has been heavily hit by the Government advice on social distancing and delaying house moves – but for the most part, the services on offer are still needed; across both personal and business legal services.

Employment law around issues such as furloughing staff, or dealing with absenteeism; Wills, Trusts and Probate matters; and the widely reported surge in divorce enquiries fuelled by the enforced ‘togetherness’ of couples.

But how do you PR that without looking opportunistic?  In reality you probably can’t, and you could end up landing yourself a rather unfortunate ‘Lawyers boast of booming profit during COVID-19 crisis’ headline if you’re not careful. Indeed, one journalist contact of mine said he would personally name and shame any firm seeming to capitalise on such quick wins.

Luckily many firms, and certainly where my clients are involved, are very understanding of that, and are keen not to fall foul of the public mood.

Instead, they have turned their hand to doing what they can to genuinely make their services accessible to those who need it most during what are unprecedented and difficult times.

From creating easy guides and affordable packages to help business bosses access the advice they need to protect themselves and their employees, through to offering significant discounts to NHS staff keen to get their affairs in order and putting their significant marketing ‘weight’ behind campaigns to raise tens of thousands of pounds to help those directly affected by the illness.

In doing so, the PR they have received – both traditional (print and online, broadcast etc), and via social media – has been significant and positive.

In some cases, the work they are doing is generating no revenue, and the publicity they are securing does not include a firm namecheck. Instead, the focus is on generating and cementing lasting client relationships with businesses and individuals who will remember the help they received when they needed it most.

Such publicity is hard to put a value against.