How PBS is navigating the COVID-19 crisis

The television network that serves 330 member stations around the country offers some key insights on how to prepare your organization for crisis and adapt to changing work requirements.

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PBS is no stranger to reputation management and crisis response.

The network is often in the news in recent years as several federal budgets have tried to get rid of funding for the organization that helps bring local television service nationwide.

Jennifer Rankin Byrne, vice president of corporate communications for PBS, shared her takeaways on crisis and reputation management during Ragan’s Speechwriting and Public Affairs Virtual Conference on March 26.

Byrne says that it’s helpful to lean on your history when trying to combat misconceptions about your organization.

“We have 50 years of history making differences in peoples’ lives,” she says. “We like to call upon that in reminding people about the importance of PBS.” Examples for her organization include famous faces like Mr. Rogers, characters from Sesame Street and TV chef Julia Child.

“Everyone has their own PBS story…and we try to tap into that,” Byrne says.

The current crisis

How has PBS used these reputation management and storytelling techniques in the current COVID-19 crisis? Byrne says that it’s important to start from the inside and think about your key audiences.

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