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The 2024 Cision and PRWeek Global Comms Report

Find out how 400+ PR and comms leaders worldwide are approaching the way they work in today’s media landscape.

COVID-19 Comms: Lead with Empathy

When it comes to brand communications during the ever-changing, uncertain time of COVID-19, there is one main takeaway: Lead with empathy. 

Leading with empathy and humanity was the first point made by John McCartney of Wise PR, one of our three PR experts from across the industry in the second installment of our webinar series Best Practices for Brand Communications in Times of Uncertainty. He was joined by Aisha Fletcher of Brinker International and Bill Zucker of Ketchum PR.


Now more than ever is the time for brands to listen and to "read the room". Brands should be precise and thoughtful in their communications, asking before anything goes out what it is communicating and who it is trying to reach. These are best practices in the best of times that become especially important now; no one should be force-fitting a story. 

Aisha added that it's the comms' professional's job to push back on leadership now if they want to force a story or narrative that will ultimately be harmful to the brand. And while it's easy to skip steps in a time that feels chaotic and like everything is top priority, we should work harder than ever to be sure we don't skip any. 

Other great takeaways from this panel discussion included: 

  • Be prepared for reentry: Just because you didn't close down during this time doesn't mean you aren't "reopening".
  • Planning now won't be a quarter out; it's week-by-week, and when we make those plans we won't stick to them, but they will keep us grounded.
  • How can we in the PR industry bring value to the work the media is doing? 
  • Remember that journalists are people first, and use this time to build and reinforce relationships, not to send tone-deaf pitches.
  • Use social media to stay on top of not only the news, but your audience and what they're discussing and what questions they need answered.