Nina Jaksic gives us a look inside in-house communications during the coronavirus pandemic. We learn why “the relationships you had prior to lockdown” were so important, and how “it was really easy for companies to appear tone-deaf”.
“We were working towards the goal of being laser-focused”
Nina talks of how BNY Mellon Investment Management was proactive in their approach of putting in working from home practices before the lockdown was announced by the UK government. “I volunteered to work from home to test our remote working systems. A few days into that, we got the note that we would all be working from home indefinitely.”
On working from home, “it was something that we had never experienced before. There’s no playbook of what a pandemic is like and it’s absolutely incredible how humans can adapt so quickly. The first day working from home was bizarre, simply because we were in a pandemic but everyone in the team adapted very quickly.”
“If you’re part of an in house team there is constant communication. You’re speaking across the desks, asking who’s speaking to which journalist and constantly bouncing ideas off one another. We never had a formal meeting because we were usually talking to each other all day. But once we were working remotely, we put in 9 am and 4 pm check-in meetings and I thought that was incredibly helpful.”
“Relationships are effectively your currency”
On creating new working relationships in lockdown, Nina said: “The relationships that you had prior to lockdown, those are the names that journalists recognised and those were the names I recognised. That element of trust had already been established and most journalists were so busy that they seemed to be working with people they knew.
“Relationships are effectively your currency and contacts will continue to be important.”
“We focused on providing commentary that was relevant for the current situation”
“Before the pandemic, we already had the majority of our 2020 plans put in place and we knew, at least for the first quarter, what we would be doing. The moment the pandemic came, the entire news flow changed and it was very easy for companies to appear completely tone-deaf, and that was a reputational issue. Being an in-house team, we are so close to our spokespeople that we were able to quickly turn it around. We put our long-term pre-pandemic plan to the side and looked at what was going on in the present. We focused on providing commentary that was relevant for the current situation.”
PR in Lockdown is a podcast series produced by Access Studios in collaboration with the PRCA. It is available on YouTube and all major podcast libraries.