• Jennifer Fortney

Lessons from 2020: How Covid-19 Has Changed PR and the Way You Tell Your Story

As many people anticipate the end of 2020, it’s not likely that just because the year ends that much will change. In fact, it’s likely to stay on this “Twilight Zone” path until Covid-19 finally fizzles out.


Yet, as crazy as the year has been, there have been some sparks of innovation and hope that will lasting effect in the future. It is as much a new normal living with Covid-19 as it is the transitions it brought to the media industry and storytelling.


This year, at Cascade, we’ve:

  • Seen countless journalists nationwide lose their jobs due to cuts in advertising and subscriptions

  • The catch: The news doesn’t stop. Fewer journalists are now doing the work of many and trying to keep up, causing great stories are falling through the cracks

  • Talked to broadcast producers and journalists who are creating packages and editing them from home and often without the fancy equipment and software at the station

  • A client story generate quick interest only to be discarded because industry information changed the next day

  • Experience it taking longer and longer to hear response from media and the frustration that we can’t just call their office line and talk to them

  • Seen news cycles change in the blink of an eye, pushing other news and valuable stories to the side

  • Learned that brands can use social media to be of comfort, support struggling communities and individuals, offer humor and hope to consumers

  • Learned how to better position our clients for success with a new model that will be even more relevant in the future

  • Seen we’ve seen a new birth in local news with support from large corporations and even university journalism departments

  • Read about freelance and small media generating opportunities with email newsletters

  • Seen how Facebook’s bet on Groups has helped build of communities of people on social media and help many who are alone at home stay connected


That’s a lot for one year. Yet there’s more. The one thing we learned is how to listen to the consumer, the market, media and then align clients marketing goals to meet their needs in a new way.


To do this, we’ve shifted our model to provide clients with more tools that ensure their company story is seen, heard, engaged with and does what it is intended to do – drive awareness, sales and partnerships.


The “newish” concept of Brand Journalism is not new to us. We started embracing this model before it had a name. We know that story content creation using a number of tools across several channels, in conjunction with PR and Brand Journalism, is paramount now and moving forward.


With a news cycle that is shifting minute to minute, it’s exciting but we must ensure that we keep our client stories moving with it.


I’ve long been ahead of the curve watching, listening and learning to create a public relations model that has thoughtful foresight for our clients. We work with innovative companies every day and thus we must innovate to ensure that we are not only practicing current methods but also leading in the methods of tomorrow.


Public relations is no longer simply a press release and direct story pitch to media. It’s much more than that because consumers, partners, even media will learn about your business through a number of different channels. Our job is to understand this and drive a model that has this in mind.





This year, I launched the Cascade360 model. It’s a full scope PR and brand story program that helps our clients expand their message no matter the industry.


What makes this so special? Well, like I was ahead of the curve in pivoting Cascade from a PR Agency to a Story Agency, Cascade360 takes this concept even further with the understanding of media today, and tomorrow, technology and digital innovations, understanding consumers and how we connect that with what matters most to our clients.


Together, with my team, we are building the PR agency of the future for startups to small enterprise to launch, grow and sustain in a marketplace that is likely to pivot again in 2021. And we’ll be ready for it.


Are you?


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