This post was first published at the beginning of the pandemic, but the recommendations can be implemented during any crisis.
Creating a messaging strategy during normal times is stressful enough. During upheaval with COVID-19 or any other type of crisis, a business or brand must craft appropriate content for its audience.
The following are examples of adjusting your messaging strategy across your network to adapt to the current situation.
Many businesses have had to close temporarily, and others have made drastic changes to adapt to the situation. But things will eventually normalize, or a new standard will develop, and when it does, your business needs to have a presence and be ready for a resurgence in commerce. Do not drop your messaging efforts.
It is critical to maintain communication with your audience and your customers. Whether it is about changes in how your business provides services or products or to give messages of reassurance, be sure to continue posting to all your channels and blog and employ email when necessary.
However, balancing your messaging strategy is essential. Do not bombard followers with unneeded information. No one wants to hear repeated advice that is published elsewhere.
Send a Relevant Message from the CEO
One way to show your concern and care and let your client base know you are still in business is to send a personal letter via email. The message should come from the owner, president, or CEO, depending on the company.
Local brick-and-mortar businesses may have managers who personally interact with customers, so it makes sense for them to send a message to their base. Larger companies and corporations might send an email from the CEO or president. If a business sells products online or continues to offer in-store purchases, such as grocery stores or pharmacies, informing customers about the current best health practices in place is essential.
However, hundreds to thousands of companies have emailed letters in the past couple of weeks, inundating inboxes and frustrating subscribers. To avoid joining the masses in repeated messaging, craft your letter to relate specifically to how your operations during this time will or will not impact your customers or the public at large.
The following message from Harbor Freight Tools is a perfect example of a business expressing how they are helping their local communities during this critical time. At the same time, the company is positioning its brand front and center during this crisis.
Founder Eric Smidt writes the company is pitching in to help during this crisis by donating its entire supply of personal protective equipment to community hospitals where their stores are located. The letter also encourages its audience to help by letting the company know of hospitals that might need such equipment.
Additionally, it is critical to target your email campaign correctly. Sending a mass email to every single person in your database may not be the best approach. For example, if you want to reassure customers that your products are safe, sending a mass email to your newsletter subscriber list may not be appropriate if many are not customers.
Inform Website Visitors of Key Updates
If your business sector provides services or involves one that could directly impact the public’s health, it is essential to update your company’s Website. Incorporate content that is relevant to the crisis. An example is public and private water utilities.
Many water organizations have posted information on their Websites, reassuring the public that water supplies are at low risk from COVID-19 contamination. Water utility managers explain how usual treatment safety standards for water supplies eliminate bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. Some city managers have provided this information via video, which is an excellent way to connect with and reassure the public.
Here is an example of such a video from Tom Kennedy, general manager for the Rainbow Municipal Water District:
If your business continues to ship products to customers, especially health-related ones, a note of reassurance on your Website is vital to make them feel safe. An easy way to do this is to repost your company’s emailed letter on your company Website.
Adjust Social Media Posts
Social media posts should not be frivolous at this time. On the other hand, many people might need a dose of humor to relieve the stress and worry they are experiencing. Whatever strategy you choose to communicate with your audience during this time, consider what you post carefully.
While humor might work for some businesses, for others, quotes related to peace, calm, and nature might be more appropriate. You do not need to be in the healthcare or mindfulness business to send messages that help your followers maintain a level of sanity during this time.
Adjust your messaging to reflect that your company is conscious of what is happening. But also get across to your fan base that your business is still open and offering whatever products or services they might need. The changes need not be dramatic. Finesse the content to show your business recognizes that people are experiencing significant stress.
Publish Helpful Blog Posts
While there are plenty of articles about COVID-19 and advice on how to stay safe, your business does not need to publish more of the same. To do so will overload your readers.
However, if the industry your business serves is impacted by COVID-19, by all means, incorporate it into your posts. But do it in a way that informs and educates your audience. Many people who work in yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and similar modalities publish podcasts, videos, and blog posts to help their audiences manage their physical and mental states during crises.
For our client Nobel Systems, whose customer base is water utilities, we published a blog post relaying what their clients are doing to reassure the public they will have access to safe water supplies. The post also mentions resources to help operations managers get through this fraught period of uncertainty as efficiently and effectively as possible.
The coming months will bring more change, and business owners must adapt quickly. Reevaluate your content messaging daily and keep it human, relevant, and calm.