The annual ranking of the year’s toughest PR jobs has been released by BlacklandPR, and communicating the Covid-19 lockdown levels scored as the toughest challenge for 2020.
This is due to the highest possible public profile of the job combined with the strongest possible emotional reaction, impact and complexity.
The euthanasia referendum and panic buying at supermarkets scored as the second and third hardest. Seven Covid-related communications challenges were in the top 20.
BlacklandPR uses a scoring system that ranks issues out of 10 for four factors – Impact (how many people are consciously affected directly or indirectly), Profile (media coverage and ‘talkability’ in everyday life), Emotion (the intensity of emotional reaction), and Complexity (complications and technicalities of the issue).
Blackland PR director Nick Gowland says: “Preparing the nation for Covid 19 lockdowns required juggling a perfect storm of practical and psychological factors.
“National and regional lockdowns had never been done before, so explaining why the decision was made and what you’re asking people to do would vex the most seasoned PR pro.
“It was an especially gnarly PR challenge; overcoming fear, communicating complex ideas and science, without enough information and with local and global events changing at speed.”
Gowland says euthanasia was also an exceptionally tough communications challenge for opponents because so many of the public were personally motivated to support the bill.
“They were up against 20 years’ worth of political and news media attention on the issue. Many Kiwis related to the idea that one day they might be terminally ill and would like the choice of being able to end their lives.”
In previous years BlacklandPR’s PR Challenges list has been headed by events such as Roastbusters, the Fonterra botulism issue, the Flag Referendum and the Capital Gains Tax.