PR during lockdown – why adversity is the time to act

Lucinda Carney is CEO of Actus Software, a chartered psychologist and a client of CommsCo. She gives her perspective on hiring a PR agency on the day the lockdown started. As CEO of a busy HR software business, I am well used to prospecting emails and 99% of them are ignored or cast aside. However, the CommsCo email from Ilona stood out for a number of reasons and I am really glad that it did! Without giving away any trade secrets, the email was personalised, well researched and provided clear evidence that they knew the marketplace that I was in and had demonstrated previous success with similar businesses. In a highly competitive marketplace, I am always looking for new, improved ways of lead generation. I have been reasonably sceptical about PR having had two or three less than positive experiences in the past. But this time, the timing was right, Ilona was highly credible and I agreed to sign up to a three-month trial. Two weeks later, lockdown kicked in and the business world was turned upside down with sales enquiries and orders dropping off a cliff for many. We were in our second week of working together and just getting to know each other. I was already impressed by the fact that we had a whole team of people supporting the account and a weekly, very well structured and organised planning call. It was clear from the calibre of the team and the energy between us that we would be a good partnership although, it has to be said, I think we were all really impressed by just how much placement success we had during lockdown. As the marketplace changed, we brainstormed what this meant for HR and businesses in our sector, the CommsCo team were full of ideas and we inspired each other weekly to come up with new blogs, articles and webinars. Compared to my previous experience of PR, I had never seen so much relevant thought and effort being put in on behalf of our business and have come to view the guys at CommsCo with fondness, as part of our virtual team. I have always been fairly comfortable writing thought leadership content, in fact our website is heaving with HR related white papers and resources and I host a popular podcast called the HR Uprising which requires me to continually generate and create new content. However, without the support of PR, we really weren’t getting the exposure or traction that we deserved with so much quality content. Working together really changed this as not only did our weekly meetings inspire me to create better, more relevant content, I didn’t feel alone as the team would regularly draft articles up for me to edit or adapt saving the time and pain spent staring at a blank sheet of paper. From almost the start of lockdown we started to get articles placed and publicity in a range of places from the Daily Telegraph, to the Metro to HR titles. In fact, during the first four months of working together we had achieved 24 placements with a crazy eight hits in one week!

This kind of exposure is really heartening during a challenging business climate because although it is hard to directly link to sales at this stage, it really helps you to feel that you are doing all you can in a difficult environment. We really enjoy working with the CommsCo team who continue to show up to our regular meetings with enthusiasm and full of ideas and hope to continue the relationship for the long term.