Communicate with Compassion
How to Manage Brand Messaging During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Life looks very different than it did just a few weeks ago. With the rapidly evolving nature of the Coronavirus, our new reality is set in quarantine. Borders are closed, social distancing is the new norm, job security is a major concern, and the health of our communities and the economy stand uncertain.
So how does small business weather these troubling times? Though the circumstances of this pandemic are unprecedented, as brands and business owners we need to understand and thoughtfully consider what we’re putting out there.
Here Are Some Best Practices for Communicating with Compassion:
Lead with empathy
Now is a time to look at your audience as people, not customers. Rather than transferring the stress and uncertainty of your own business onto the consumer, approach your messaging with the understanding that they might be carrying their own anxieties surrounding paying their mortgage or caring for loved ones. With every caption written, newsletter sent, blog post drafted, ask yourself: how would this make me feel if I were on the receiving end? This doesn’t mean you invalidate your own feelings, it just means putting your customer first.
…a health crisis is not a marketing opportunity. It can’t be. But what it can be is an opportunity to build upon the foundation of trust you’ve already established, and connect with your audience in a truly, meaningful way.
Dial back your sales pitch
Whisper, don’t shout. Though you may have spent the past several months working behind-the-scenes on a big launch, now is likely not the best time. Not only are spending habits reflective of our current climate, but releasing ill-timed promotions could damage your brand’s reputation. As a service-based business, your expertise could be helpful to your target market at this time. Exercise restraint here, as a loud sales pitch may come across as tone-deaf.
Keep up to date on what’s happening
Things are changing incredibly quick right now. Before issuing any new messaging on your brand’s behalf, make an effort to check in with the news cycle. As most of our businesses exist online, as least in part, it’s important to be aware of the impact from a global perspective and be sensitive to what’s happening in your community and beyond. Adjust your tone to reflect this, and prepare to pivot at a moment’s notice.
Check-in with your customers/clients
With the instant nature of social media, it’s easier than ever to read the room in real-time. Take it a step further and check in with your customer. Not because you want to sell them something, but because you want to know how they are doing. Hop onto Instagram Stories and show your face as the founder of your business – there is nothing more comforting or critical right now than human connection.
Think about how you can give back
For some brands, a charity tie-in may be appropriate. For others, a more grassroots approach is more fitting. Think about how you can be of service: offer free consultations, create content to support your audience, collaborate with other businesses, go live with tutorials, host virtual workshops, Q&A’s, or group workouts, and drive awareness around local organizations or initiatives in your community.
Ultimately, a health crisis is not a marketing opportunity. It can’t be. But what it can be is an opportunity to build upon the foundation of trust you’ve already established, and connect with your audience in a truly, meaningful way.
Ashley Cassidy Seale is the founder of Ruby Social Co., a creative communications studio for conscious lifestyle, beauty, and wellness brands. She has cultivated over 10 years of experience and brings her expertise to elevate her clients through PR, social strategy and content, and copywriting.