As 2020 has proven, staying connected is more important than ever. Since the beginning of this global pandemic, we have been bombarded with a constant barrage of disturbing news and find ourselves experiencing emotional, physical and mental fatigue, all while isolating and attempting to social distance. But just because we must keep our distance, doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected.

Humans are social creatures by nature, especially in the marketing and communications space. Connecting with people and building relationships is a huge part of who we are and what we do as communicators. It is how we meet new clients, how we build relationships with existing ones and how we tell their stories. Consumers want to trust the brands they do business with and nothing builds and cultivates trust like solid brand awareness.

This year, our normal ways of conducting business have drastically shifted gears. Instead of going out for coffee to get to know someone or pitch them a story, we have been forced to utilize the technology we have become so dependent on and are now left with zoom calls, emails or DMs as a means of communicating.

In today’s competitive marketplace, establishing strong media relationships can deliver many advantages no other communications strategy can achieve, like creating brand awareness, controlling a crisis, and increasing credibility with both the journalist and consumer alike. Building a solid reputation for a brand is what makes a company stand out and stay top of mind with its customer, long before any issues arise. Establishing those relationships with media and influencers is vital to inspiring customer loyalty, driving company growth and improving confidence in your brand.

Staying connected with the people who can boost your brand’s reputation and help manage the narrative when a crisis does come about starts with building trust.

Although the nature of media relations and how we are able to connect has evolved over recent years, and as the journalist pool continues to shrink – especially with the turning on and off of the economy this year – we have to adapt to these changes quickly and strategically and must take great care in cultivating those relationships.

Remember the importance of staying connected regardless of whether or not you have something to pitch. Shoot them a note to see how they are doing, just because. Send a gift card for Uber Eats or Starbucks and invite them to chat over a zoom call. How you foster those relationships will determine the network you’re able to build, the trust you’re able to create and the longevity of that community.

It’s not been an easy year, that’s for sure, but we have the choice to stay connected, and the benefits are endless, for both business and our own peace of mind.