The conversation drifted a bit towards what is in fact PR, but another way to answer the question is to look at what PR does, more than what it is.
First off, one of our daily tasks is to develop and manage communication instruments. This means making sure that a newsletter or any other instrument is both effective and efficient, in a time of Crisis, it is also important to make sure there isn’t any waste (as publishing a newsletter that no one reads). Sometimes this means forgetting one instrument altogether and focus on a completely different approach.
But our job is also to manage relationships. In a time of crisis this means we have to make sure that we do not lose the tangible and intangible values and relationships that power the business model. Knowing which ones really matter is a first step into making them stronger, and as machiavellian as this may sound it also helps to identify which relationships to break in order to be more agile.
Times of crisis are also times of change, of changing corporate culture, procedures and even build entirely new business models. Internal communication plays a big role in this change and its management, it is important to keep people motivated and informed of the overall progress and most of all it is important to have monitoring mechanisms in place to make sure everything is going smoothly.
There are probably several other aspects that don’t occur to me, but it seems to me that the communication department should list its routine tasks and how they impact the organization in a positive way. Think about it as a personal audit, and if our audit proves that we are lacking there is nothing stoping us from expanding the focus, this time trying to find opportunities to help the company in a time of crisis.