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  • Writer's pictureGabriela Romero

The secret to an everlasting career: Invest in these pandemic-proof PR industries

With a startling COVID-19 outbreak and a consequential recession, 2020 created a name for itself as the year of doom. Since the U.S. reached an all-time unemployment rate high of 14.7% in April, students’ fear for their current or future PR careers has become a common theme.

Kira Tirshfield, director of brand strategy at Covet Consumer + Power Digital Marketing, and Professor Alexa Mokalis from the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University, explore PR industries that illuminated themselves as pandemic-proof in 2020 to help students take their careers by storm...or in this case, pandemic.

According to Tirshfield and Mokalis, pandemic-proof industries have one element in common: well-being. Whether it’s fitness, health, wellness, beauty, technology or nutrition, Tirshfield and Mokalis understand publics are more conscious about treating their mind, body and soul than ever before.

“The pandemic has made people acutely aware of what’s going in their body and what’s going on around them,” said Tirshfield.

She alludes to face masks influencing the way people perceive health.

“It’s a combination of people wanting to invest in their overall well-being and putting a magnifying glass on what’s making them unhealthy or healthy,” said Tirshfield.

So, what isn’t pandemic-proof? With people unable to travel for leisure, the hospitality PR industry (hotels, air travel and restaurants) has suffered. These industries are losing money and can’t afford to pay for PR.

Without vacations, big business trips or entertainment, publics are left to reflect inward.

“People need to feel good about themselves to be their best selves, so people will invest in [industries related to well-being] regardless if they lose capital,” said Tirshfield.

Mokalis, undergraduate advising coordinator and lecturer for the School of Journalism and Media Studies at SDSU, knows that in this virtual world, maintaining unwavering relationships with consumers/stakeholders from afar is visceral to keep one’s PR career afloat.

Practitioners need to use digital and social media to remain connected, share stories and establish trust.

Mokalis elaborated: “If [using social media] wasn’t a priority before, it absolutely needs to be one now because consumers’ buying behaviors and preferences have changed due to COVID-19. In order to keep them loyal and engaged, [brands and practitioners] have to work really hard to maintain their trust.”

To create a sense of global connectedness when the pandemic began, colossal brands like Facebook, Uber, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, advocated that "we're all in this together" by creating messages and commercials to discuss how we should take care of one another. Mokalis hopes that sense of caring for one’s community continues to be fostered and promoted by brands and PR practitioners.

“Those messages should have always been shared, especially as we exist in this relationship era of marketing. But I hope that those types of messages, especially in a country that has been so divisive as of late, will remain and will continue to be shared by such big, global brands, even post-pandemic,” said Mokalis.

By Gabriela Romero

Gabriela, a third-year college student, studies Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations at San Diego State University. Paired with her PR major, she is completing a minor in Rhetoric and Writing Studies. Romero is Public Relations Student Society of America Vice President for the SDSU chapter and a Professional Studies and Fine Arts Marketing and Communications Student Assistant. Additionally, Romero is Running Club at SDSU’s Director of Communications and a copy editor for MidWave Magazine. After college, Romero aspires to work in internal communications or social media for a brand or agency that is issue-driven to make the world a better place.

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