Social Marketing

During “stay at home” orders, many U.S. residents find themselves between two poles in information consumption.

On one hand, isolation leads many to go online constantly, surfing multiple devices at once: it’s common to stream a TV program, while also using a smartphone and a tablet or laptop too. On the other hand, trauma reduces reading comprehension, speeding up how quickly people reach information-overload. And, competition will grow for this limited attention span as communicators resume their content distribution.

While no one knows when social distancing will end, we should be prepared for a “new normal” to emerge, one that doesn’t look exactly the same as how we consumed content before COVID-19 arose. Whether an organization needs to communicate critical information during the pandemic or after, the following tools reflect what we find works for grabbing attention at a difficult time, with inclusivity, compassion, and efficacy.
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These three animated shorts were submitted by PRR to the United Nations in answer to a global call for creative messages to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
REAching your audience

Animated content

The flexibility of animation provides a dynamic and relatable medium. Further, when we had to pause on live action videography, animation emerged as a critical tool early in the COVID-19 pandemic. No cast or crew needs to be present on a set.

Critical insight: Animation can circumvent the use of race or ethnicity so that a variety of communities see themselves in the video. And, it can happen without human interaction during social distancing.

Plan for short attention spans and rapid consumption of content. For creative inspiration, please enjoy the PRR video team’s response to the United Nations’ call for creative assets.
Residents may have limited and unequal options due to finances, citizenship, and other barriers – but they all deserve access to solid information on how to navigate their world, provided with compassion. For example, we worked with the Washington State Department of Licensing to inclusively educate residents about how to prepare for changing ID laws.
REAching your audience

Organic social media content

In the fast-paced world of social media, best practices emphasize monitoring relevant societal trends, and quickly and effectively pivoting messaging and content. Responding to COVID-19 is no exception. Rethink content calendars. Amplify essential messaging. Express empathy for the audience.

Critical insight: PRR’s social media lead currently recommends that clients prepare social media content no more than one month out, sometimes even one week, in this fluid situation. As communicators, we are in a position to help people move from the “fear zone” to the “growth zone” and to practice radical empathy when they experience setbacks.

person browsing social media on a laptop
REAching your audience

Paid media content

Paid media doesn’t make sense for every topic during the pandemic. But, it can connect audiences to essential information they need to know now as well as content they need to begin thinking about for their future well-being.

For example, health issues such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes continue to occur during COVID-19. What’s more, it takes people time to research and process information before they make serious decisions, such as whether to undergo a major surgery. So, it is not user-friendly to hold on those kinds of communications now and expect them to rush through a lot of thought processing about acute medical conditions later, even if the surgery itself will wait. That said, this would not be the time to promote in-person, elective procedures such as a new dermatology treatment.

Critical insight: Paid media may offer a lot of value as media outlets have considerable inventory available, which may decrease later in the year due to the presidential election. Ask for counsel on whether to keep, modify, or postpone scheduled ad buys themselves, as well as whether to pivot the creative.

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Talk it through before deciding to modify plans. For example, we created the Washington State Department of Health’s prescription opioid campaign just prior to COVID-19, and had to consider whether to press pause. We realized it is not only still relevant, but maybe even more meaningful to reach people who are isolated at home, perhaps with a full medicine cabinet, and facing stressful times.

New challenges call for new approaches. We're here to help you assess the need and determine the best path forward.

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