No Need to Pause Public Relations in a Pandemic

Cynthia Guiang Orca Communications

Cynthia Guiang, CMO, Orca Communications, tells us about delivering excellence in public relations, social media, and influencer marketing.

First of all, how are you and your family doing? 

Cynthia Guiang: We are doing well, thank you. I am grateful that we came through the pandemic relatively unscathed. I know it was a difficult time for everyone.

Tell us about you, your career, and how you joined Orca Communications.

Cynthia Guiang: I have over 30 years of marketing experience on both the agency and client sides. Orca Communications was founded by a good friend of mine 20 years ago with a mission to help inventors and entrepreneurs receive the attention from the media that their innovative products deserve. The challenge was these small companies could not afford to hire a PR firm, so she created an innovative way to provide affordable public relations services that fit their budgets, and Orca Communications was born. Fast forward, about five years ago, my friend asked me to step in to help manage the firm as she moved into a well-earned retirement.

How does Orca Communications market its product/services online? 

Cynthia Guiang: We are active on social platforms, especially LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook. We are also in the process of ramping up our content strategy. We confess that we spend most of our time focusing on helping our clients market themselves online through earned media, social media support, influencer, and affiliate marketing.

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how did you get through it?

Cynthia Guiang: To be honest, the entrepreneurial spirit is resilient. While we had a few clients who needed to put their campaigns on hold or wait to sign on, most of our clients stayed on board despite the uncertainty of such an unprecedented situation. And we even signed on new clients. Since all of our clients sell products online, most did not see a major downturn in sales, and some even saw stronger sales than ever. While we did take a temporary hit as the lockdown dragged on into the summer and companies were very cautious about committing any spending, we did not have to lay off any employees, and we fully recovered by year-end. We are very grateful to our many clients that stayed the course and didn’t panic, for it ended up being mutually beneficial. 

What specific advice would you provide to companies on how to optimize their online marketing?

Cynthia Guiang: Make sure you aren’t just taking one approach. The key is to coordinate, integrate and amplify all of your efforts. Public relations (earned media), social media, influencer, and affiliate marketing are all key channels for outreach. Have a solid positioning and messaging strategy, so your brand is presented consistently and authentically no matter where you are seen. This consistency and wide online presence will also help with search engine optimization. There are many tools out there that can help you manage these various channels…do what you enjoy and are passionate about, and outsource the rest to experts in their field like us!

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Cynthia Guiang: We have more competitors than we have space to name here. There are so many PR firms out there. But we are the only ones who take our unique approach and who focus on startups, inventors, and entrepreneurs in the same way that we do. We had carved out a unique niche that had kept us in the game for 20 years when many agencies did not survive. We’ve also adapted our approach to the ever-changing media environment. Our ability to continue doing this will allow us to continue to stay in the game.

Your final thoughts?

Cynthia Guiang: The knee-jerk reaction to something like the pandemic is to just stop in your tracks. Many large companies cut their budgets, and their PR firms felt the pain from that. Working with small companies who are ever-focused on the potential and a future they are building are not worried about stockholders and short-term performance, so they tend to stay the course – and I think they came out ahead in doing so. Instead, they did not lose ground and gained ground as perhaps larger competitors in their space went quiet. At a minimum, they kept their marketing on track and their names in front of consumers, who, armed with stimulus money and sitting in isolation, did a lot of online shopping. Companies should keep this in mind should we face another shutdown, but like everyone reading this, I hope we never have to go through that again. 

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Kokou Adzo


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