The news headlines have been dominated by the pandemic. It seems to be the only thing that makes the news these days.

How can brands make news during the pandemic?

We asked Melinda Murphy, a multi-faceted, EMMY-award winning journalist for her views and she shared the following:

How can brands make news during the pandemic?

Now more than ever, brands have an opportunity to make a name for themselves.

As we all learned in Marketing 101, it’s all about the right positioning and – in some ways – positioning is easier than ever because every single person in the world is going through the same things that comes with a pandemic: quarantine, cabin fever, grief, depression and so much more.

You don’t have to figure out what people want. We all want the same thing.

But you do have to figure out how to position your brand within the scope of a pandemic.

Do you have a beauty cream? Then make it about the beauty cream to see you through long, sleepless nights.

Do you have a resort? Then talk about how good it will feel to make plans now for after the pandemic ends (there are actually scientific studies to back this up even!).

How is your brand going to help ease these feelings? How is your brand different and special?

The rules of marketing and public relations haven’t changed. It’s the same fight every brand battles all the time, but now the scope is different.

Should brands still try to make news given that most headlines are dominated by the pandemic?

Not advertising or trying to get press now would be an awful decision.

Too many businesses are closing.

The ones that are thriving are finding clever and creative ways to reach their customers.

For example, there are lot of cupcake shops delivering, but the cupcake shop that is delivering decorate-your-own cupcakes with everything you need to make beautiful and yummy treats is scooping up all the kids’ birthday parties.

Not only are the cupcakes something to eat, but the delivery also contains something for the kids to do together.

This is the kind of story that the media might pick up on because it’s different and creative.

The other avenue for media attention is doing something good. The entire global population is craving good news.

Just look at the success of “Some Good News,” which has now been bought by a major television network.

People are overwhelmed with bad news. So now, more than ever, corporate social responsibility and paying it forward are ways to get press.

Doing good is the best way to make a name for yourself.

And of course, there’s good old advertising which is going to be a cornerstone for survival.People need to know you’re there and what you do. You can’t count on the press picking up on your publicity messages.

What should communications professionals need to know when working on publicity plans for the year ahead?

Trying to figure out what’s ahead is tricky because we truly don’t know what the future holds.

But what we do know is we’ve all experienced the same thing together.

So I think that smart professionals will try to capitalize on those feelings we’ve all shared though there’s a fine line between capitalizing on something bad and using those emotions in a good way.

Again, I think doing something positive for others is a way to make a name for yourself.

And this doesn’t have to be donating billions. There are a lot of simple ways to do good that can still make headlines.

I also believe thinking outside the box is the answer. In a world of Coke and Pepsi, you can’t be RC Cola. You have to be Sprite. You have to be different.

I think paying for advertising will be more key than in traditional years and these ads will have to be very cleverly thought out.

You’ll have to fall back on the things that work. Video is key for social media.You need to be the expert or perhaps you need a gimmick, like getting to decorate your own cupcakes.

Would media professionals be more selective about the stories that they write this year?

Media professional are humans so we have all been through the pandemic, too, so we will write with a slightly different colored lens, but this will fade.

I was working in New York after 9/11 and big events such as these change perspective – for a while. Eventually, stories will return to normal.

But I do think the media will have to work smarter.

Lots of advertisers have gone out of business across the globe so each outlet will be more lean and particular about what they publish or promote.

You can’t depend on just public relations. I think each brand will need to plan to buy advertising.

How has your role at Expat Living been affected by the pandemic?

COVID has been very hard on our family. My husband’s father died on Easter in the US and we couldn’t go home to be with him or bury him.

Then, four weeks later, my husband’s company decided to shutter the Singapore office so he lost his job of twenty years as a commodities broker.

Unfortunately, I have a Letter of Consent which is tied to his Employment Pass so we will both be out of work.

We’re hoping to stay in Singapore and I may end up setting up my own business as a media consultant/writer if possible.

And perhaps I can still write for Expat Living as an outside contractor. We’ll see.

There are many people in far more difficult positions. So many are reaching out and trying to help so I feel blessed.

You don’t realize how much support you have until you need it. We just have to make some lemonade and find our next adventure.


Profile photo of Melinda Murphy
About Melinda Murphy
American Melinda Murphy is a multi-faceted, EMMY-award winning journalist who has been working in Singapore for the past seven years. Here, she was named MAPS’ Journalist of the Year for her pieces in Expat Living magazine. You can reach her at her website.