Zoom-Webinar for PR Engagement in the Covid-19 Era, By Victor Agi
As the world grapples with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and scientists, equally working round the clock to discover vaccines for treatment, the alternate direction that most economies are towing is in how they can safely live with the reality of the current global situation.
In this realization, some economies are reopening and recoveries are projected, howbeit, at a slow pace.
At a press briefing at the White House yesterday, President Donald Trump announced that a federal data has reported a whopping 4.8 million jobs added to the U.S. economy in June; which further brings their unemployment rate down from 14.7 percent in April to 11.1 percent, and also represent significant gains from the previous month, according to a report by The Washington Post.
This, despite fears of resurgent of cases of COVID-19 in the United States is a pointer to the fact that the world must be more ready to live with the virus, instead of outright shutting down of economic and commercial activities.
For the Public Relations industry, the current precarious global situation, like in most sectors, could be seen as an obstruction to traditional ways of practicing the profession, especially in areas of stakeholder engagement through town halls/conferences and other means that require physical meetings.
In this sense, the bulk of the efforts at migrating workforce from the erstwhile traditional ways of PR engagement to the virtual reality occasioned by the ongoing health crisis are squarely a function of how practitioners are ready to adapt and internalize the workings of the virtual technologies.
Zoom-Webinar is one of our realities; as we saw an inroad of the technology into the Nigerian virtual market during this era of COVID-19, and there is no gainsaying it has proven to be effective over the period of the lockdown as a veritable tool for PR engagement.
In its visionary leadership, the handlers of the Capital Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) introduced an online training series to engage practitioners and prepare them for emerging realities in the industry.
The series saw an assemblage of some of the best brains in the industry from within and outside the country, and there was a robust conversation around PR sundry issues.
The success of that series, as well as many others over the period, represents one of the most drastic shifts that practitioners must be ready to embrace if they must remain relevant in the new digital economy.
The PR industry, like many other service-based sector are in danger of being pushed aside as a means of cutting cost for most organizations, hence, practitioners must develop requisite skill sets, and the need for the entire industry to be strategically positioned so as to deter organizations from conceiving the possibility of push it over cannot be overstated.
Aside from developing digital skillsets for personal relevance in the new system, the onus also falls on PR and communication practitioners to prepare and train another workforce for productivity in line with the demands of today’s digital normal.
Giving the prevailing COVID-19 protocols, which will remain with us if we, as a country, must avoid an astronomical swerve in cases of the virus, well-packaged zoom-webinar remains one of the best ways of engaging stakeholders.
For any corporate entity to maintain the lead in brand management, especially in this era of COVID-19, the PR & Communication practitioners, and indeed the entire workforce must adequately be groomed in the adequate use and deployment of zoom-webinars and other video conferencing applications for proper engagement with stakeholders towards overall growth and profitability.
PR must, therefore, set the pace for the renewed digital culture in corporate management. This is because the industry’s global competitiveness and local relevance lie in its ability to spearhead the digital shift and galvanize the other workforce to fit into the new economy.
Zoom-webinars and other video conferences do not only serve for training, but they have also successfully been deployed for other high-level purposes, including engaging stakeholders, television appearances, virtual conferences at the United Nations, World Health Organization, European Union, etc; it’s therefore high time practitioners seized the opportunity that these technologies offer, rather than seeing them as a threat to their operations.
Covid-19 will remain, as current trends do not portend any imminent end to the spread of the virus, it is in our best interest that we see zoom-webinars as a favorable digital obtrusion that should be harnessed for impact in the long run.
Victor Agi writes from Abuja, he’s a zoom-webinar technical specialist and can be reached on [email protected], 09034763220