"The pandemic had a significant impact on consumer grocery buying behaviors," Rachel Kay Public Relations CEO Rachel Kay tells Doug Simon. "People were packing their pantries with staples and exploring new aisles that they weren't previously frequenting. And with restaurants closed, many of us used the time as a period of culinary exploration."

"The biggest shift," she says, was that "sites like Amazon and retailers like Walmart were seeing huge increases in online food and beverage purchases. Brands were scrambling to set up their own D to C sites, and some brands were forgoing traditional brick-and-mortar strategies altogether."

That, of course, has led to a similar shift in how food and beverage brands are communicating about their products.

A transformed media environment has also made new strategies necessary. "So many of our activities are now focused more online as opposed to TV and print, which was the focus in the past. We're harnessing the power of affiliate links to not only track our sales impact, but to drive consumer purchase."

With many media outlets losing advertising, Kay says that many of them are making up for that loss by "capitalizing on selling platforms." She cites the ramp-up of the New York Times's Wirecutter as a major example of that.

Another key strategy: "Integrated programs that merge traditional PR, social and influencer marketing, can pack a significant punch in a world of fear of missing out, impulse purchases, one-click shopping, subscriptions, etc."

The power of industry experts is also stressed. "Expert positioning, thought leadership within the internal team, trend stories, and crisis communications, those are always going to be critical components of a successful communications plan."

When it comes to measuring the impact of commnication, Kay says that "we can do things like monitoring conversation, and sales generated through our press coverage through our affiliate dashboards."

She also thinks that "a heavier reliance on video is going to be critical, as we've seen that through social networks like TikTok. Bringing that experience to life through influencers is going to continue to be critically important. So, I think the most important thing we can do as communicators is really keep up on the evolution of these technological advances."

View all of the interviews in the “PR's Top Pros Talk” series. Subscribe to get notified when new episodes are available.

Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]

D S Simon Media helps clients get their stories on television through satellite media tours and by producing and distributing content to the media. The company also produces live social media events.