Written by: Kyle Kappmeier
The COVID-19 crisis has thrown a wrench into most communications and marketing plans, forcing companies to alter their campaigns, temporarily put them on hold or cancel them completely. Even as the country begins to re-open, we must deal with guidance that changes constantly, making timing announcements around them into a delicate dance.
The pandemic has changed how we do business, and so must our mindset when it comes to marketing brands and selling products. Building relationships and leading with your values are more important than ever.
No matter the situation, avoid being viewed as “tone deaf” by staying on top of the news cycle. Good communicators can tap into the emotions gripping the audience they’re looking to influence.
Here are four best practices for creating an announcement strategy during a global crisis:
1. Consider the Timing
The timing of your campaign is crucial and being agile is key. Even if the announcement is tied to a specific event, time of year, or company activity, it should be balanced with outside factors that could potentially impact the plan.
When a global crisis as massive as COVID-19 occurs, making the right call to move forward or stand down can be tricky, depending on the type of announcement. News headlines and events on a smaller scale can also influence the campaign timeline. If the campaign requires making a big media splash, consider waiting until the media isn’t in the thick of it to prevent the news from getting buried or your brand seeming out of place.
2. Address the Right Audience
You may have an announcement that requires swift action regardless of whether it fits into news of the day, like an important personnel change or company development. If the information is more important for your shareholders than for the public, think about sharing it with your intended audience in an email communication rather than making a public announcement right away.
3. Add Value to Your Message
Consider how your message is adding value in the current climate and be ready to pivot your strategy. Read the room and pay attention to the conversation to see how your audience is reacting to the current situation so you can understand what’s important to them and adjust your message to be appropriate and helpful.
While not every bit of company news will fit perfectly, if the announcement feels out of place, it probably is. It’s not worth risking public ridicule and negative attention for your brand. Alternatively, think of how you can tweak the message to make it more relevant.
4. Show Empathy
Like all communication, your tone plays a role in how your audience will interpret and react to your message. In a recent blog post, we discussed how these are the times when your values matter most. Showing your empathy for the challenges of your customers, colleagues and competitors by speaking in direct, intimate and authentic terms, will help build trust and customer loyalty for your business.
In a time when we’re all looking for a bright side, remember to be positive in your messaging.