What We Heard: COVID-19 PR & Marketing Survey Results

A few weeks ago, we asked the Virginia PR and marketing community to participate in our survey to assess how COVID-19 has impacted our profession. We were fortunate to have 139 professionals respond – and if that includes you, thank you! 

At this point, it’s more than a little trite to simply say COVID-19 has impacted our profession. Not to mention the additional unrest. Months into the pandemic, that’s a well-established reality. Some of the most pressing questions we’re now looking to answer include, to what degree and how do we best help our organizations clients move forward? 

There’s still a lot we don’t know about the virus’ full impact on the PR and marketing world, but we think the following will affirm some things you’ve likely seen, and more importantly, give you a few insights to help you and your organization address the challenges stemming for the pandemic. 

Download our COVID-19 Marketing & PR Survey Results Report

More efforts around social, content and internal comms – but with less budget

The financial fallout from COVID-19 has been swift and devastating. Seemingly overnight, many businesses found their entire business model temporarily inoperable. As can be expected, this is affecting budgets of most PR and marketing departments. Nearly two-thirds of respondents shared they’ve either seen their budget reduced (45%) or expect it will be reduced (20%). 

Lower budgets though don’t necessarily mean less work. When asked if they expect to do more, less or the same of common PR and marketing tactics (e.g., social media, media relations), very few indicated that they see these efforts slowing down. In fact, many expect to increase these tactics in the coming months. 

Of those listed, most respondents indicated they expect to do “a lot more” of social media (38%), content marketing (33%) and internal communications (58%) – which isn’t surprising given the challenges and opportunities many are seeing as a result of the pandemic. In-person communications, whether it be for networking, new business or updating staff, simply isn’t feasible for the short term – and potentially long term for some industries. 

Stakeholders’ needs and concerns have shifted in a big way

The crux of any effective PR or marketing campaign is having a clear understanding of your audience – what they find interesting, challenges they’re looking to solve, etc. Of all the questions we asked, this had the most lopsided response. 

Three in four organizations (75%) believe COVID-19 has had a significant impact on their key stakeholders’ primary needs and concerns. Among non-profit and governmental agencies, this was even higher, with 89% and 90% noting this, respectively. As organizations begin developing campaigns in a post-coronavirus world, it’ll be critical that they first reassess how their stakeholders have shifted and update their messaging and services accordingly. 

Better relationship with leadership

Crises often present opportunities for communication professionals to demonstrate their expertise and value to their organization’s leadership, who at other times, may look elsewhere for making top-level business decisions. Without question, this has been true for PR and marketing professionals these past few months. More than 60% shared that their organization’s leadership sees public relations and marketing as more valuable since the start of the pandemic. 

Possible return to normal by 2021?

Understandably, two-thirds of respondents said COVID-19 has significantly impacted their strategies for this year, with nearly the rest (29%) answering “slight impact.” However, after this year, most are hopeful the virus’ impact will be less severe on their work. The most common answer for COVID-19’s effect beyond 2020 was “slight impact” (36%), followed by “significant impact” (32%) and “I don’t know” (29%).


Certainly, every organization is unique, along with the impact COVID-19 has had on their operations. As any PR and marketing professional knows though, being proactive in addressing the issues – and potentially opportunities – that have arisen in recent months will pay dividends down the road. 

There are more insights from our survey than we could cover in a single blog post. If you’d like to see the full results from our survey visit the COVID-19 PR & Marketing Survey Results Report page.

Greg Surber

Greg Surber, APR, is a public relations strategist through and through. He works on a variety of accounts, leading research projects and content strategies, but he also has extensive experience with more traditional PR efforts including national and trade media relations campaigns.

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