As the government‘s Stay Home, Save Lives message gets through and the world settles into a new normal, the PR and communications profession must start to look at the positive social impact it can have right now.
Most PR teams and agencies have, rightly, been prioritising getting their own houses in order; setting in place crisis communications plans, transferring to remote working and protecting the welfare of their own teams.
Now we need to look further afield.
The PRCA Council last week considered ways in which the profession can do more to help the coronavirus response. Much can be done on an individual level, such as providing pro-bono support to a local charity needing communications help or supporting your neighbours.
In addition, we explored three new ways organisations and professionals can help.
1. Volunteer your time
Once the initial rush of communications has slowed down, teams may find they have spare capacity. Most organisations will be supported through this through government schemes (although much more needs to be done for the self-empoyed and freelancers), so there is no excuse for not freeing up staff to volunteer to help the NHS effort.
In England, PRs can sign up here to the NHS / Royal Volunteer Service scheme: https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS.
Details of expanding the scheme to other nations will be announced soon. In the meantime, in Scotland, people can visit: https://www.volunteerscotland.net/covid-19/ to find out ways to help.
2. Donate un-used resources
A dusty old laptop, an ipad which has long since past it‘s useful life, a smart phone which had to be upgraded?
Most PR and comms offices are full of these things. But right now, older people need them. With visiting hours in most care homes and NHS facilities cancelled and over-70s self-isolating, technology is the only way to maintain social contact.
Clean these items and see if staff have a care home nearby who they could offer them too. Or contact national organisations like Anchor Hanover, BUPA or one of the many smaller care home groups listed online here: https://www.carehome.co.uk/caregroups/
3. Spread positive news
The mental health of the nation is suffering and will get worse as the self-isolation and social distancing last into the weeks ahead. There are several sources of good news, including The Rooftop. Join its Facebook community and or follow on Twitter and submit positive news stories (even old ones will be considered) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It will be a long fight, but if we unite together the PR & communications profession can help with the national effort to beat COVID-19.