31.12.20 / Posted by jirehconsult

Malaysians born in the late 80s have our minds ingrained with the Wawasan 2020 mantra. A visionary future for a developing nation where almost everything would be advanced. Back then, our imaginations ran wild thinking of flying cars or shoes that enable us to cross time and dimensions – just like the Back to The Future movies.

Then 2020 happened. The Year. The Year of Pandemic. Who would have thought 2020 would be year that will turn the world upside down.

No flying car. No flying shoes. While we have planes, they cannot fly – not because of the lack of technology but because borders are closed to contain the spread of the virus. Millions if not billions of people are affected directly and indirectly by this pandemic.

Nevertheless, looking at the world through a glass half full, the current situation provides different opportunities that force us to change, and some are indeed for the better.

In our Public Relations or PR line, some might raise the question of how will this industry survive when physical distancing is a requirement? Face-to-face interviews is a no-go, media gatherings even more so not allowed, there is no fam trip and so on.

This is where a key attribute of PR – rapid adaptability – is invaluable. And of course, thanks to technology, almost everything is possible.

Technology has helped PR practitioners be more creative and allowed us to manoeuvre around numerous alternatives to keep communications running and ensure that it is effective. Despite having no face-to-face activities, my team and I managed to achieve a series of successful virtual events for different brands and topics – from travel to tech, communications and even pets! With many working from home, we went the extra mile. Suffice to say, we now know where many editors and writers live!

However, in reality, when virtual takes over physical, it is not as easy as it sounds. It requires a lot of preparations, if not more than a physical event, before D-day. Rehearsals are important. Both the spokesperson and us need to pay extra attention to details. Things that were never in the checklist before, such as the camera angle, sitting position, lighting and background colour become critical. The goal is to reduce the possibility of glitches when we are dependent on technology to power the activity.

This is not something we can easily learn from a textbook. We went through multiple experiences and learned from previous events to improve for the next one.

The truth is, COVID-19 will be around for a while. We have to ‘tip toe’ our way when in public or during physical meet-ups. Therefore, virtual meetings and events are going to be the mainstay of PR efforts. At the same time, we must keep exploring new things and interesting ways to help brands share their messages.