Many companies across all industries face unprecedented disruption due the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in March, most businesses have been implementing their respective crisis management plan to adapt to this new normal.
Elaine Chuah, the Vice-President of PRCA Malaysia and the Executive Director of Priority Communications PR shares her experience.
Q: What are the measures taken by your agency/ team to adapt to the new normal?
A: Our team transitioned fairly smoothly to a Work-From-Home (WFH) model as it is part of our Business Continuity Plan. During this time, communications played an even more important role as WFH took more effort, planning, coordination and creativity to ensure our teams stayed connected, productive and engaged. We also had to manage all our stakeholders, clients, media, partners, suppliers and associates, and assure them that the team’s commitment and support remains uninterrupted.
Working under the new normal meant establishing new meeting rhythms and implementing new and improved SOPs to support both internal and external communications and workflow processes. Technology definitely played a key role in facilitating the smooth transition, and in a short period of time, we explored and adapted the use of numerous digital, video conferencing and webinar platforms to ensure continuity of meetings, briefings, training and events. We stepped up training and development with both internal and external speaker resources available to ensure a continuous learning environment, which in fact, has been much more accessible with everything being virtual. We also launched numerous virtual initiatives and gamified activities to ensure that teams remain positive and closely connected, interaction remains high, and creativity is nurtured and inspired.
Q: What are the things that you thought would be difficult about this transition but turned out to be easy?
A: As a consulting business, we have always prioritised flexibility, mobility, connectivity and collaboration. We thought that shifting to the WFH model would be challenging, but it has been a more seamless transition than expected. Collaboration continues to be cloud-based and communication is now all online instead of face-to-face.
Many previously scheduled events and engagements transitioned to online events, which required a different level of strategy, planning and execution, but they turned out to be manageable as well.
Clients and media were very appreciative of the additional effort the team took to stay closely connected, and proactively counsel and recommend responses, messaging and campaigns that were both relevant and significant to the current times. This enabled us to continue to build trust and forge even stronger relationships with our key stakeholders.
Q: In your opinion, how does this new normal affect the PR industry?
A: The PR industry, like the media industry, has been undergoing transformation long before COVID-19 hit our health and economic systems. A crucial part that remains constant is how critical the PR industry is in helping organisations build trust and manage reputation.
As communities assess their priorities and determine what matters most to them during unprecedented times like these, organisations must navigate the unknown with clarity of purpose and certainty of intent, and lead conversations with authenticity to create new levels of meaningful engagement with key stakeholders, and that is where the PR industry plays a pivotal role.