Chamber Chat 6/10: Marketing and PR during a Pandemic

On Wednesday the 10th, the Chamber hosted three of the area’s leaders in marketing and public relations. The panel of local experts discussed how to brand and communicate your products and services in light of the coronavirus pandemic. In case you missed the webinar you can find the key takeaways below. You can access each of our speaker’s homepages by clicking on their name in the notes.


1. Be Agile

  • Emotions are changing rapidly and changing quickly, needing changes in strategies.
  • Have internal and external resources to be able to change your messaging.
  • Develop Calendar with Core messaging themes, adjusting tone.
    • Media that can be easily stopped, started.
  • Digital platforms- allow you to change messaging.
    • Social
    • Ads (YouTube, Hulu, Spotify)
    • Google Search Ads
    • Website Display Ads
  • Preferred channels: radio, TV/cable.
    • Be cautious: billboard, newspaper, transit, direct mail (can stand out because of direct messaging.
      • These outlets can provide great deals currently.

2. Spend and Spend Now!

3. Be Relevant

  • Tie in brand themes and topics that are resonating.
    • HOT: Diversity, safety, cabin fever, mental health, remote/virtual, how to (get back to normal), activism (make statements around what is happening in  the community right now)
    • Fatiguing: COVID-19, “new normal”, social distancing, heroes


Mikat Public Relations

Relevancy Matters

1. Identify your audiences.

  • Figure out who they are. Different for all. Ex. Donors, shareholders, employees (very important)

2. Identify with them.

  • Employees vs. customers vs. news media vs. volunteers.
    • Get into their shoes using sympathy, empathy.
    • Want to know you get it. That you’re in it with them. That you have their back.
      • Ex. Job losses, people upset, angry, scared. BAD: We also have expenses, have a team of employees & families.
    • ID their pain points. If you don’t know, ask via phone call, visit (via zoom), surveying. Once you know their pain points you can do something about it.
  • Don’t sell them. Build relationships. What can we tell them that will make their lives easier?
    • What do they need to make it through this difficult time?
    • How can your product solve their problems?
    • Our job = pain relief. Share solutions through content marketing.
    • Share FAQs
    • Add value = relevancy.
      • When the market tumbled, communicated “we’re on it”.
      • Send out a survey to know how they are hurting and their concerns.
        • Develop a plan and strategy to get through it together.
  • Lot’s of irrelevant messages right now:
    • Ex. Manage account online
    • News announcements, adapt to align with pain.
  • Community Response
    • Great example: Distillery producing hand sanitizer.
    • La Crosse Community Foundation: funding.
    • DBS: Saw pain point of restaurants and initiated the double takeout promotion. Matched takeout order value with additional gift card purchases.
    • Unexpected to match with brands.


Dinsmoor Strategies

1. Messaging

  • Positive
  • Inspirational
  • Helpful tone
  • Key Words
    • Contribute, connect, cope, respond, safety, contact-free, virtual, remote, delivery, online
    • BAD: Capitalize, offer, gain, profit
  • Offers: Modify offers. Ex. Google has banned ads on travel-related services.
    • Appropriate calls to action- put limitations on offers, be up-front
    • Ease up on urgency- call now, book now

2. Website

  • Ex. What are your plans to open
  • 38% of users will stop interacting if it is unattractive
  • Look at navigation- streamline, get what you want
  • Ensure the home page is updated
  • ESSENTIAL: Include what people should expect/how they are being protected
  • Update SEO titles & descriptions
  • Change content
    • Videos show connection
  • Virtual appointments

3. How to communicate out you are open.

  • Update Website
  • Business struggling: focus on low-cost, social media, email to customers. Google my business = updated hours.
  • Audit all channels: social media, traditional media,

4. Balance Fun and Pain

  • Room for both even in the same medium. Cabin Fever – the desire for positive messaging, optimism, getting out, and having fun. Can remain quiet.

Group Responses

When is it okay to sell?

  • Ask. Ask small groups.
  • Be subtle.
  • No restricions. Easy to engage.
  • Be a resource for when ready to make a decision/ready to purchase.
  • Not a matter of not selling, it’s a matter of how you’re doing it (tone/sensitivity).


  • Great example: Salons
  • Immediate
  • Many people prefer texting over email.


  • Many things are coming to impact. Ex. Supply chain shortages.
  • Continuous conversation – how’s it going, how’s it looking?
  • Gives time to follow the issue and workarounds
  • Add value now and over-service because there will be some cash-flow changes coming down the road.
  • Face-to-face meeting & interview – anything in person is not recommended: create virtual experience