4 ways to communicate during the COVID-19 crisis

As marketing and communications professionals, we are facing a major disruption. Coronavirus is sparking uncertainty around the world and many of us are asking: “How should I be communicating during this difficult period?”

In this article I propose four ways to re-focus your marketing and communications in the face of this unprecedented crisis.

1. Be empathetic and generous

As outlined in Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2020, trust has never been lower, so it’s an opportunity for companies and organizations to fill the gap and take positive action in society.
A recent update of the Edelman study for COVID-19 shows that 78% of respondents expect business to act to protect employees and the local community. 
Once this is all over, it is clear that the winners will be mission-conscious brands who have communicated with empathy and generosity.
This is why it is a time to focus on awareness, thought leadership and empathetic communications.
This means changing your message and looking for ways to connect with your audience in this difficult time. A good idea is to create a small fast-response team for centralised, agile communications.

2. Be creative

It is likely that your old visuals and copywriting probably aren’t relevant in these challenging times.
It’s time to be creative and to find new, more personal ways of communicating.
Some good tools for this have created sections devoted to content related to the Coronavirus crisis: Unsplash and Pexels have a whole section of new photos and videos relating to COVID-19 (with a convenient “Work from Home” section), Canva has developped great designs to help get you started and even curated a #stopthespread section as well.
Check out trending hashtags and look around for inspiration. This is a great time to re-energise, review what you are saying and re-assess how you are marketing your company or organisation.
Other good insights include a recent post by Twitter, “Brand communications in time of crisis“, as well as a blog post by Neil Patel, “What The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Means For Marketers” which offers a practical look at new challenges and opportunities for digital marketing.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

It's a time to be creative and to find new, more personal ways of communicating.

3. Reach out more often

This is a time to be more personal and reach out more often to our community, especially as people get cabin fever and yearn for some interaction, even if it’s only online. 
This means more online communications, a stronger emphasis on community management, and increased effort to engage directly with fans and followers with questions and comments.
It’s also a good time to use video to add a personal touch.
Instagram stories are great for short, up-to-date messages, especially since it’s a medium that doesn’t need to be polished or perfect.
For those who regularly organise events, Facebook LiveLinkedin Live and Twitter Live Video are all good options, as well as Youtube Live Streaming, depending on your favourite social media channel. Zoom has also offered support for webinars and virtual events during this period of social distancing. My wife’s yoga teacher is using it for his classes, which is a good example of how quickly people are adapting to the new stay-at-home reality.
Another good example of this outgoing approach is WindEurope, the wind energy association, which has adapted quickly and launched a series of video webinars entitled “SofaTalks” with the inviting message: 
“Europe is working from home! Make yourself a cup of coffee and join WindEurope experts as we bring you all the latest from the world of wind energy, directly from our sofas to your sofa!”

4. Be positive

In these unprecedented times, it’s important to keep a positive outlook and to maintain an productive tone in all of your communications.
Spreading positive vibes is essential in this difficult period, and once this is all over it will pay dividends for your brand.

It can be as simple as a happy music playlist on Spotify that you share with all your followers (I’ve created this playlist if you’re looking for inspiration). 

You can even create your own hashtag that helps colleagues share what they are doing at home during the crisis. Check out the #workfromhome hashtag for some ideas.

One thing is certain: we will get out of this and in the end we will come out stronger and more united. 

It’s clear that, with so many people working from home and staying indoors, maintaining a strong digital marketing and communications presence is even more important.
If you have any more suggestions or tips please don’t hesitate to add them to the comments section below and if you have any additional questions don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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