• Heesang Yoo

COVID-19 and Post-Pandemic

COVID-19 and Post-Pandemic

It has been about a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started influencing almost every aspect of our lives. It has created a lot of uncertainty and also caused significant problems in terms of business and people’s personal lives. Although the US and some parts of Europe are experiencing a steep resurgence of cases while implementing vaccinations on a massive scale, we have probably turned the corner, finally, and we may be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel in the near future.

The magnitude of the pandemic and the implications that it has inflicted on respective geographic locations certainly differ. It appears certain that Asian countries have been managing the crisis a lot better than their European and American counterparts. Residents of some Asian countries—notably Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan—have been able to avoid strict lockdowns and have been enjoying near-normal life, abiding by strict measures to minimize the impact caused by the pandemic. PR and marcom, as well as media and journalists, have been affected greatly by the pandemic, however.

PR and Marcom Activities During the Pandemic

Korea is one of the few countries in the world that has been able to avoid a strict lockdown from the start of the pandemic. All business and personal activities have been carried out without interruption while abiding by the health authority’s guidelines and recommendations. However, it has not been possible for regular PR and marcom activities to be executed normally. They are either completely cancelled after months of delay and rescheduled, or they are carried out either totally online or in a hybrid format depending on the social distancing level at the time. Similarly, most in-person activities are either vastly scaled down or completely eliminated, and regular press conferences and briefings are being done either online or in a hybrid format. Cordial meetings with journalists have been nearly eliminated and only executed when absolutely necessary. Email and voice calls are mostly replacing in-person meetings with journalists. Disseminating press releases and press-related materials have become the core methods to interact with journalists and media in general. Other PR and marcom activities have been either delayed or postponed indefinitely.

How Media and Journalists Have Been Dealing with the Pandemic

The media industry has been suffering greatly. Korea’s publications depend heavily on ad-revenue, which has been steadily declining. They have been trying to come up with alternative ways to boost revenue as various in-person events, namely seminars, conferences and networking events, have been impacted heavily. Other means of revenue provided by various corporations have evaporated almost completely. These corporations have been able to escape pressure from publications regardless of size and influence by using the pandemic as an excuse to no longer support them. Journalists have also had a hard time due to the lack of ways to interact with their counterparts to get more information. Even before the pandemic, they usually did not stay at the office much since they had to go out to meet people and attend various events and gatherings, or they stayed in one of the press rooms provided by major conglomerates in Korea or in one of several conveniently located coffee shops. With the pandemic lingering, they have now fewer choices of places to hang out at; hence, they are trying to work from home.


We are still under the heavy influence of the pandemic, but with the availability of several vaccines and potential treatment, we can now anticipate some sort of normalcy as early as the latter half of this year. Small-scale in-person interactions have been unaffected here in Korea throughout the pandemic, but I believe the level of interactions will gradually increase. A large number of corporations have implemented PR and marcom events that are either strictly online or presented in some sort of hybrid format, but these methods have not been that productive or effective so far. First of all, the cost associated with them may have failed to justify the results. Also, journalists have not been very satisfied with them because they lack interactivity. We will, however, see a gradual return to the pre-pandemic situation. Second, publications will face an even harder time after the pandemic. This is because now corporations can justify walking away from various seminars and networking events organized by these publications, because they realize the effectiveness of using the excuse of hardship caused by the pandemic. Top publications in Korea, namely the three consumer and two business dailies that compose the top five, may be able to pressure corporations into giving them a level of support similar to what they use to receive, however.

Understanding these unique aspects of the Korean media scene will help you when you are planning to conduct PR or media relations in Korea.

The same article was posted at LinkedIn too.

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