Every company is dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, and with the status of countries ever-changing, finding the right response is difficult. This is not a “marketing opportunity” for brands to capitalize on. It’s a serious situation affecting the well-being of people across the globe. However, communication is essential during difficult times. It’s important to provide clear, beneficial information to your audiences, while also working to navigate the rising disruption caused by the outbreak.
Here are some tips on deciding what’s appropriate and how to clearly communicate your brand in times of crisis.
Be honest, thoughtful, and open.
Now is not the time to be silent. You should start by immediately communicating how you’re handling the situation. Even if you don’t have all the answers, rapid and regular communication can help alleviate some concern and confusion. When it comes to public health and safety, customers like to know that’s a priority to you.
It’s also important to be thoughtful of your tone of voice. Brands need to adjust their tone to fit the situation and context. Now may not be the best time to use humor or sarcasm. Empathy, understanding, and being supportive goes a long way. The best way to decide the appropriate tone is by listening to what your audience is saying and how they’re saying it, and reflecting that in your own message.
Utilize accurate and reliable information.
There is always tremendous amounts of inaccurate and misinformation that circulate around the internet. People always want accurate information, but during times of crisis it’s even more critical. For brands, it’s important to only share information that you know is reliable and factual.
If you do have information that might help people navigate uncertainty, or help keep people calm, you should share it. If you have information that affects your company, employees, customers, etc. you may want to share that as well. When fact-checking yourself, it’s best to turn to the CDC and the World Health Organization, who provide the most accurate and timeliest information.
Use a variety of communication vehicles.
Some brands have a tendency to over-rely on email when sharing information with customers. While email is an inexpensive and effective form of communication, it shouldn’t be the only vehicle used. Consumers’ inboxes can get bombarded with spam and marketing messages. To ensure you reach your entire audience with important information, utilize a variety of media channels. Post updates across all social media platforms, your website, and even through paid mediums.
Anticipate change and act accordingly.
With the situation ever-changing, it’s important to stay updated and informed. It’s also important to anticipate change in your customers and respond appropriately. As people are shifting to working from home, self-isolating, among other behavioral shifts, elements of all businesses will be impacted. Whether that be needing to change policies or cancel events, brands should make responsible and timely decisions.
During this time, consideration is most important. Everyone needs to keep in mind the ways in which people are being impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. All people are affected by this and there are varying levels of anxiety and concerns in different areas. Provide help in any way possible, whether that be sharing positive stories, helpful initiatives, or educational information. As a brand it’s important to create a communication strategy during a crisis that informs, supports, and provides reassurance to your audiences.