The Agenda | Vol. 26 | Ready, set, reopen?

MAY 20, 2020 | THE AGENDA VOL. 26

Showing the world how impactful storytelling drives behavior

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Though health experts caution we are nowhere near out of the woods when it comes to COVID-19, local governments are beginning to plan for phased reopenings (many in concert with social distancing guidelines) in an effort to stave off some of the worst economic effects of the pandemic.

This is leading many communicators to preemptively put on their crisis communications hats. How do you convey that your organization is taking every possible step to ensure the safety of employees and customers, in a time where safety can’t possibly be guaranteed?

How to approach a comms plan for reopening

Photo: PR News

PR News’ Nicole Schuman recently consulted Fleishman Hillard and strategic comms firm RUBENSTEIN for advice on the essential elements of a reopening communications plan. Both emphasized the need to start by listening to employees, as what they are feeling will ultimately be what the public perceives. In addition to employing classic PR principles such as communicating empathetically and often, and listening as much as you speak, Schuman’s sources advise emphasizing a measured approach, as a recent survey indicated that most households are emerging from social distancing in increments (read on for more on Mower’s survey). 

PR News: How to Create a Communications Plan for Reopening

Governor Cuomo leans on big business for reopening advisory board

Photo: Forbes

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has received praise for his science-based, no-nonsense approach to communicating with New Yorkers as the virus bore down on America’s most populous city. As his state takes a more measured approach to reopening than many with more rural (and conservative) populations, Cuomo established a 115-person advisory board on reopening that includes mostly CEOs and execs from some of the state’s largest companies (Pfizer, Google, Mastercard), alongside labor and education leaders, nonprofits and business advocacy groups. Though Cuomo maintains the speed of reopening will be driven solely by the scientific data, critics charge that giving enterprise outsized influence over New York State’s future (enterprise makes up the largest part of the group, by far) sets the stage for further privatization. The upside of establishing a massive board? Each member put out a news release announcing their appointment and it was covered by every major outlet in the state.

Fortune: Governor Andrew Cuomo is relying on the advice of CEOs and billionaires to reopen New York

New survey asks 1,000 Americans what Day One looks like as restrictions are lifted

Photo: Forbes

Creative communications agency Mower undertook a survey to help brands and organizations gain an understanding of how quickly the average American adult intends to resume 22 of their pre-pandemic daily activities. The survey measured the intentions of 1,000 respondents to resume activities on Day One, Day 30 and Day 60, and discovered that while most participants were keen to return to the office and grocery shop regularly, few intended to patronize bars, restaurants and hair salons right away. Even fewer intended to travel. In addition to being cited by PR News, Mower’s survey was picked up by Forbes, Adweek, and Travel Pulse. A new comfort zone: When will Americans feel ready to return to “normal” activities?


Photo: Nursery World – Leonor Stjepic, CEO of Montessori Group UK

Congratulations to Global Impact Relations Network agency Stand Agency on winning new business with The Montessori Group. Stand will develop an integrated communications program to raise awareness of Montessori as a mainstream form of education and create campaigns on key issues affecting children’s education, Early Years teachers, and parents.


Podcasts we love

You’re Wrong About: Journalists Michael Hobbes (HuffPost) and Sarah Marshall (Freelance/BuzzFeed) reconsider an event, person or trend that the public imagination has miscast, such as Y2K and the Exploding Ford Pinto.


Are you telling socially impactful stories? We want to hear from you! The Global Impact Relations Network will be sharing a Campaign of the Week on social, and standouts may be included in upcoming editions of The Agenda. Submit your story here.



Wishing health and safety to you and yours. Thanks for reading,

— Ashley Letts, Managing Editor

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