Photo credit: istock.com/Michail_Petrov-96

‘Content is king’ – it is a well-worn phrase, but perhaps worth resurrecting when considering PR and marketing strategy during the COVID-19 crisis.

While it was true well before Microsoft founder Bill Gates ran with the idea in his 1996 essay, and has remained valid since, the use of creative, engaging and targeted content to promote a brand or company is even more compelling in 2020. In this age of digitalisation, connectivity and instant access to media platforms and social media, have we ever had more time to explore and search for articles, videos or blogs and enjoy content, with our usual activities, sport and entertainment options so curtailed? Denied their former freedom, there is a largely captive and present audience that is receptive and eager for information, with access to multiple interactive and mobile digital media platforms. There have undoubtedly been many negatives for businesses during the lockdown, but during a crisis it can still be a good time to reach out and build relationships with people with the right message. By not ‘going dark’, brands can remain at the forefront of the public’s attention and maintain their position against competitors.

A core element
At any time, content creation is a key aspect of PR strategy and is particularly effective in the maritime industry with a range of very specialised media covering the various sectors – leisure yachting, superyacht, inland waterways, fishing, racing, commercial shipping and more. By maintaining a comprehensive and up-to-date media database and contact list, it is possible to monitor the editorial and content plans of relevant magazines, publishing groups and digital sources to identify opportunities and provide input.

At Saltwater Stone, we track for different subject areas to suit our clients, placing complete articles, either focusing on a brand or product or exploring a related topic, or contributing input from a spokesperson to demonstrate expertise as part of an editorial feature. Alongside regular press releases, there are many other ways for businesses to maintain a high profile with tailored content, including interviews, Q&A sessions, thought leadership, videos, webinars, blogs, case studies, infographics, competitions or digital newsletters.

Filling the void
During the crisis, it has been necessary to take a fresh approach to content, as the maritime media aims to survive and adapt in a vastly different landscape, while in turn businesses look for new ways to ‘keep the lights on’. There is a void created by cancelled events, shows and regattas, but editors and journalists have stepped up to the task to fill their pages with more product, company and thought leadership content. The audience of frustrated boaters and professionals involved in the commercial shipping sector are looking for new material, to fuel their preparations to get back on the water or back in business. The many positive developments to meet demand include greater emphasis on digital magazines, with many publications taking the opportunity to increase their readership by offering free access, while other publishing groups have expanded their free content, launched virtual boat shows and increased video content, social media or podcasts. Maintaining optimism and pushing the ‘back to boating’ theme has been the pervading message to boost media, businesses and consumers in the long term.

Our responsibility as a PR agency has been to ensure our clients are first in line for these new opportunities to ensure continuity of profile and reputation. We are actively working with editors and journalists to supply well-researched and print-ready copy to meet their demands, offering new content ideas and tracking the evolving maritime media landscape. The right content and exposure secured by businesses now will be crucial to ensure they emerge stronger in the months ahead.