California is reopening and your PR plans are still valuable
California is set to fully reopen on June 15, Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced. With that being said, it is not time to ditch your PR efforts that have helped your business throughout this pandemic.
COVID-19 restrictions are supposed to end, but masks are still expected. A sense of normalcy is coming back to California. The reopening may be contingent upon California continuing on its path to improvement and COVID-19 hospitalizations remaining low.
How businesses respond to the reopening can affect their public image. Even if businesses follow state guidelines, people can think the businesses are not taking the proper precautions. Some businesses may choose not to reopen fully, and some may decide to go back to (almost) normal. To avoid customers from getting angry, they must know how you will be operating when they arrive.
Denise Scatena, Founding Partner at Scatena Daniels Communications, says, “Businesses and community organizations should clearly communicate what patrons should expect when they arrive. Communicate clear expectations about masks, vaccines, social distancing, etc.”
All businesses that choose to go back to normal functioning on June 15 may be subject to judgment and face PR consequences.
“If you make a customer upset by the decision on how you run your business, you will probably see unfavorable reviews or posts on social media,” Scatena continues, “but you may also see others who come to rally to support your business as well. And you need to be prepared to manage these reactions appropriately.”
Despite California ‘fully’ reopening, not everything will go back to normal. Each business that chooses to fully reopen on June 15 can plan for a smooth transition by taking precautions that show the organization is responsible and values customer safety.
Elizabeth A. Pecsi, Adjunct Lecturer at San Diego State University, explains that the COVID-19 precautions are “a new imperative whether our organization is a public school, business, nonprofit, or government agency. Our change as PR professionals is to ensure the safety and well-being of people.”
The pandemic has changed public relations forever. Businesses have been adapting to changes since the start of the pandemic and have to be flexible to restructure operations when state guidelines change. The newest plans for reopening are likely not the final COVID-19 related changes businesses will have to adapt to.
Even if COVID-19 is not forever, crisis preparedness plans are. How companies have learned to adapt will always be helpful when new crises arise.
By Emma Danly
Emma is from Orange County, but spent some of her childhood living in London. She is in her last year at San Diego State University, pursuing a degree in Public Relations. Her professional experience includes social media marketing and working on brand campaigns. Down the line, Emma sees herself managing PR for a cosmetics company or opening her own PR agency.