THE practice of public relations has evolved during the pandemic with digital initiatives becoming the core of how organizations reach their target public, but with the easing of restrictions, are we seeing a return to the old ways?
Managing communication projects shifted very quickly from on-premise to online in 2020 and it persisted until the tail end of 2021.
But with pandemic restrictions now lowered thanks to the decline in the number of Covid-19 cases over the last few weeks, the PR practitioners are now melding together old and fairly new practices to engage their audience. They adopted what is termed as hybrid engagement, a mix of on-site and online initiatives for particular projects.
Will this be the new normal moving forward?
For Cathy Yang, the FVP for Corporate Communication at PLDT Inc., what needs to be understood first is the definition of what the “new normal” is, noting that the group “took a stab at it” when it mounted its first hybrid briefing.
“We’re at a stage of pivoting and refining a little bit more because we still can’t define what the new normal is,” she said during the BusinessMirror’s Coffee Club on Friday.
Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) Spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga, meanwhile, noted that the pandemic forced Meralco to “rethink” its strategy of communicating to its target audience and adapt to the demands of the time.
“It’s really changed the way we do things traditionally,” he said. “We had to find a unique way to come up with a solution.”
Despite the easing of pandemic restrictions, Zaldarriaga believes that a hybrid setup will continue to persist—even beyond the global health crisis.
“If you try and benchmark with other organizations, I do not think what we are doing now with technology will change. But to go back on how we do things traditionally, I don’t think that we’ll do that anymore. Times have changed, we have adjusted to the constraints of the pandemic and we will continue to do so,” he said.
Meralco plans to mount its first hybrid conference in April.
“Filipinos are adjustable—we will always find a solution and in our case, as communicators, we have to continue to adapt, we have to continue to evolve, we have to continue to go out of that box to find a way to make things work,” Zaldarriaga said.
Crucial to a hybrid setup for public relations, Yang said, are power and connectivity. She added the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP) is mounting its first hybrid event to spell out best practices on communication in the new normal.
“It’s really a call to action for [defining] together ‘what is the new normal?’ We have to figure it out but we do know that one of the items in there has to be power, of course, and connectivity,” she said.