The Covid-19 pandemic has sparked a plethora of research being conducted by PR firms, delving into the coronavirus outbreak's impact on topics from consumer mindset to the state of the media. Below are snapshots of some of the most recent studies: 

Zeno Group’s 1,000-person study into how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed consumers’ values found American values are shifting in ways not seen in more than a decade and reminiscent of past periods of economic and social upheaval, such as the Great Depression.

Key findings of the study include:

  • A dramatic rise in values associated with family, relationships, and self-sufficiency, with protecting the family, self-reliance, thrift and helpfulness rising the most.

  • A plunge in values associated with materialism and self-fulfillment, with power, status, wealth and adventure down the most from before the pandemic.

  • Generational shifts including Gen Z putting more value on personal obligation; millennials putting more value on home and family; Gen Xers valuing self-reliance the most; and baby boomers putting greater value on thrift and social responsibility.

Companies’ responses should include listening more closely to stakeholders, putting a premium on problem-solving and communication support and showing a greater sensitivity toward economic pressures, Zeno said.

Global Strategy Group
’s survey of 800 Americans on how they see the role corporations need to play in the Covid-19 response found Americans are focused squarely on the safety, health and well-being of their family, friends, communities and the country at large, while expecting corporations to do the same.

Key findings include:

  • 92% believe companies have a responsibility to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • 61% believe CEOs are most focused on staying profitable during the crisis, 55% said their attention should be on the health and well-being of employees.

  • 49% say their purchasing decisions will be influenced by how companies respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • 69% of Americans trust companies and the US Congress to handle the crisis, but 59% trust President Trump.

  • Americans recognize those companies that have played a leading role in the Covid-19 crisis, with 73% saying Amazon and Walmart are having a major impact.

Cision’s annual State of the Media Report, a survey of over 3,200 journalists around the globe, found:

  • Distrust in the media is decreasing in the eyes of journalists, with respondents reporting a decrease in the public's distrust of the media for the fourth year in a row.

  • Ensuring accuracy continues to be deemed most crucial for the second consecutive year, with 51% of journalists saying that ensuring content is 100% accurate is more important than revenue, exclusivity, or being the first to publish.

  • Social media algorithms are seen as the most important new technology impacting journalists today, while the heady promise of AI continues to fade. 

  • Journalists reported looking for more optimistic, human stories in response to Covid-19.

IPR and Peppercomm’s survey of 403 PR industry leaders looked at how companies are engaging employees during Covid-19.

Key findings include:

  • 80% of communications executives are very involved in communicating internally about Covid-19, versus 75% of CEOs.

  • Only 19% of companies are communicating information focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion to their employees.

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has had positive outcomes on employee engagement, collaboration, and trust in companies, but has impacted productivity. 

Harris Poll and GCI Health’s health impact survey of 2,033 US adults, including 1,300 people with chronic illnesses, found 40% of Americans want to see stories of hope and inspiration, and that people managing a chronic condition are more likely than those who are not to want to hear about how to be better prepared for emergencies (47%), tips for improving mental well-being (46%), stories of hope (44%) or information on alternative medicine (32%).

The survey also found that 70% of Americans feel the pandemic has made them a stronger, more resilient person, and 62% find that social distancing mandates have given them time to take control of their health. 43% of those caring for someone with a health condition feel overwhelmed by trying to manage their health and the health of their loved ones.

An MWWPR survey of 1,000 Americans found consumers are dissecting corporate responses to the pandemic leading to key findings including:

  • Up to 83% will base future purchase decisions on the actions of brand leaders.

  • Additional leading factors that will drive brand judgement and purchase considerations include how a company treats its workforce (86%) and whether brands operate as a good or bad corporate citizen (84%) during this time.

  • A majority (73%) of consumers expect to hear from corporate leaders right now, highlighting one increased pressure on brands to be proactive and serve as trusted authorities for the general public.

  • Covid-19 has influenced what matters more to consumers today, and what they’re paying more attention to in these communications, including: the integrity of brand leaders (83%); the authenticity of brand messaging (68%); and how companies prioritize the welfare of their employees (84%).

  • With drastic changes to work and social engagements brought about by social distancing, 57% of consumers have started using new communication channels, and 93% will continue well beyond quarantine.

APCO’s survey of 1,000 people on the United States’ position in the world and American attitudes toward other countries in the post-pandemic world found:

  • Only 4% of people believe multinational businesses will play a role in helping the United States return to what it was like before the crisis, compared to 40% looking to state and local governments.

  • 59% also believe the crisis will harm businesses that operate in multiple countries.

  • 58% of Americans believe Covid-19 will weaken the strength of the U.S. economy over the next three years and 48% see weakening of the United States’ image as a global leader.

  • 59% believe there will be a decrease in global trade over the next three years, and the same number believe the crisis will harm businesses that operate in multiple countries.

  • 42% of Americans blame the Chinese government for harm caused to the American people by the Covid-19 pandemic, with 71% of Americans viewing China as a “competitor” and 48% viewing it as an “enemy” of the US.

A High Lantern Group analysis finds the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the issues that have the greatest impact on corporate reputation.  

An analysis of 1.6 million tweets from 3,000 leading activists, influencers and political figures, which spanned 90 days ending April 20, found the 10 biggest issues in order are: pandemics, climate change, union concerns, misinformation and living wage, followed by data security, fossil fuels, workplace safety, unemployment and electric vehicles. In 2019, the most impactful issues were climate change, lab and plant-based food, aviation safety, living wage and data security, as well as union concerns, pesticides, antitrust, trade barriers and consumer privacy.

The impact of the pandemic on corporate reputation is equal to all 19 other issues on the list combined, Other issues that have risen sharply include misinformation, fossil fuels, workplace safety, unemployment and sick leave.