The Perils of Putting a Corporate PR Program on Hold


When launching a new company, product, or service, having a plan with clearly defined goals and strategies is crucial to keeping teams focused and on task. However, most seasoned professionals have faced situations when the most carefully crafted plans do not unfold according to the original timeline. It’s during these times of serious setbacks, and product or service delays, that concerned clients sometimes wonder if it would make sense to conserve their budgets and put their PR program on hold for a bit until things get back on track.

When clients experience a setback like this, we help them assess the situation and determine the best way to proceed. While in some cases we recommend scaling a PR program back for the short term, we almost never recommend a client go completely dark as the result of a product setback. Why? Because although a company may be experiencing a delay, it’s important to keep the lines of communications open with key audiences (current and potential customers, partners and investors) and demonstrate the continued momentum, innovation, and industry leadership that is still taking place within the organization.

If a company makes the conscious decision to go dark, the reality is it runs the risk of being quickly forgotten by its key audiences. This move can also prompt outsiders to question if something has gone wrong with a company’s business or product strategy. Not to mention the fact that competitors will oftentimes opportunistically use a company’s downturn in communications to plant seeds of fear, uncertainty, and doubt to gain a competitive advantage.

Here are five communications strategies we recommend clients consider during times of product setbacks or delays to demonstrate that the lights are still on and progress is happening within the organization:

Showcase Thought Leadership and Innovation Through Content

An effective way to showcase a company’s depth of experience and innovative thinking is through a content program. Your company’s key audiences are seeking answers to a variety of problems with which your executive team has a great deal of experience. Take a close look at the issues your organization is trying to solve for its customers and the innovative approaches it is using to do so. Think like a journalist and package those stories of innovation and thought leadership into timely bite-sized content pieces with captivating headlines. Pitch them as speaking abstracts for conferences or contributed articles for targeted trade publications. They can also be used as blog post topics for your organization’s corporate blog.

Follow the Trends and Seek Ways to Engage in the Conversations

Another way to convey your company’s thought leadership is to closely follow current events and trends and proactively offer your executives as credible third party spokespersons on relevant topics.

Build Relationships with Influencers and Industry Analysts

A successful public relations program is built on strong relationships. PR teams can work on continuing to forge relationships between their executives and influential press and industry analysts, even in slow news times. By seeking out opportunities for executives to make connections with targeted influencers and press members at industry events or through more casual conversations, you can help ensure your company’s mission remains top of mind and convey that your executive team is available to be a resource for relevant stories.

Highlight Customer Case Studies, Company Milestones, Pursue Awards

Although a product or service may have fallen behind schedule, there are likely other milestones that could be showcased to demonstrate momentum. Consider spotlighting a successful customer or partnership relationship through a case study or summarizing a collection of corporate milestones for the year in a press release. Another effective strategy is to pursue relevant industry awards that have the potential to spotlight the unique attributes of your company, products or leadership team.

Showcase Everyday Moments Through Social Media

A company’s social media channels provide an easy and cost-effective way to demonstrate everyday corporate momentum—from announcing corporate presence at industry events and trade shows, sharing relevant thought leadership pieces or company partnerships, or communicating new job postings. Don’t let slower times slow down your social media best practices. Be disciplined in maintaining a social editorial calendar and using your social handles to stay connected and engaged with your target audiences.


In today’s crowded, noisy marketplace, it’s important for companies to stay on the radar of their key audiences. While going dark during corporate setbacks can sometimes feel like the easier and more cost-effective route to take, it always comes with risks and downsides. A flexible, creative ongoing communications strategy will help keep your company “in sight and top of mind,” even during slower news times.

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