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How communications and PR have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic has required many companies to become more flexible and empathetic in how they handle their employees. Nonessential workers faced potential unemployment as they were sent home during state lockdowns. Many office workers scrambled to look for new jobs as they watched friends and coworkers deal with layoffs and terminations. Even essential workers in the U.S. found themselves working longer hours and potential exposure to COVID-19, while some made the same hourly wage they always have. Employers looked to Zoom as a means of holding meetings rather than at the workplace. 

Now, after the lockdown and distribution of thousands of COVID-19 vaccines, we will still see some of these changes make a lasting impact on the workforce my generation is dipping its toes into. Because of the pandemic, Congress put in place the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which required employers to provide two weeks of paid sick leave to employees between April 2020 and December 2020. This set a strong precedent for employers in how they handle sick employees. 

Public relations professionals have also had to make changes in how their companies connect with target audiences. Brands learned how to be more empathetic and understanding as to how the pandemic is impacting their target audience, and then effectively communicate this understanding in an authentic way. Public relations professionals had to find new ways to connect with news contacts and content creators remotely. Communication skills have been essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, as remote work doesn't always capture all the thoughts and emotions behind texts and video chats. We lost the spontaneity of our brand conversations. 

But we have found new ways to connect and understand those around us. And that change isn't going anywhere.