Start-ups: Survive and Thrive During COVID-19

Leadership Photos 0004 Mary Erangey

Mary Erangey

Senior Vice President

Senior Vice President Mary Erangey specializes in strategic communications campaigns to help education, healthcare and association clients increase their share of voice and deliver clear messages on complicated issues. She’s led the development of award-winning creative marketing content and has helped win visibility for the turnaround stories of schools and professional associations. Her approach to campaign management is collaborative, upbeat and, above all, begins with the end in mind.

With COVID coverage around the clock, how do you get media attention? Should you continue your marketing plan as normal, or modify to fit the current climate?

We partnered with MATTER for their Navigating COVID-19 series to answer these questions and discuss how startup can fit in to this changing landscape. Here are some of our key takeaways:

It’s All About Harmony: Alignment with Company Values

Not sure whether to pause your campaign or pivot in a different direction? Reflect back on your company values and ensure that your communications consistently align with those values. If you don’t live your values through all communications, trust can be eroded and lasting damage done to your online reputation. Make sure that you’re walking the talk.

Align with What is Happening in the World Around You

Take a hard look at your plans and consider whether what you had previously planned is tone-deaf to the current landscape. If the answer is yes, work to shift your communications strategy in a way that will raise awareness to your campaign or organization in the context of COVID-19. Doing this will allow you to continue to tell your story in a way that aligns with what is going on in the world right now.

Set up a system to monitor the news to make sure that you are constantly staying alert to news that comes at you rapidly and changes quickly. Establish news sources and check them daily, set up Google Alerts, and have an internal team structure for sharing the latest news.

Understand What Matters to Your Audience – Internal and External

Establish and maintain trust by being open about the things that you know and what you don’t and what you can and can’t deliver. Be honest about your challenges and keep communication open. Often, deciding when to step back can be as important as a proactive response. For example, a client wanted to establish their voice in COVID-19 but recognized that their audience consisted of at-risk populations. Ultimately, they decided to take a reactive media approach to not cause more uncertainty for their population that was already scared and vulnerable.

Remember to communicate with internal audiences – employees should always be the first group to receive communications before sharing with the outside world. Messaging for outside audiences should be outlined on a platform for your internal team. Ask employees for their input, and use it.

Navigate Media Outreach

Get Specific

Journalists are looking for specific examples of stories, data and people to talk with. Being deliberate and specific with your information will entice journalist interest more than a general story about your company – think the difference between a human-interest story and a story that matches the “About Us” page on your website.

Stay Nimble

With news rapidly evolving in this uncertain climate, it’s imperative to keep up. Stay up-to-date on what is happening today, and get ahead of what will happen in the future. Shifting with the times shows that your organization is staying current and position you as knowledgeable.

Stay Tuned In

Don’t try to be the loudest in a sea of voices. Step back and take time to identify where you fit in and deliver valuable insight, perspective and information. Keep in mind where you fit in to the conversation, and know what stories reporters are seeking.

Be Progressive

According to the Harvard Business Journal, companies that thrive during periods of crisis don’t take a defensive position, but a progressive one. Step back and reflect on whether to take a different direction moving forward. Post-COVID, it is a near certainty that there will be lasting changes to the healthcare system. Shifts to home-based care, telemedicine and increasing reliance on remote screening will have huge implications on your company. This is the time to think strategically about where this positions you and your company in the future.

Want to learn more about communicating during COVID-19? Email us at


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