The DOs and DON’Ts of Communicating during COVID-19

The DOs and DON’Ts of communicating during COVID-19

I want to answer a question that I am being asked on a weekly basis: How should your marketing and communication differ during this pandemic?

I’m going to give you two DOs, and two DON’Ts:

DON’Ts

Don’t act like it is business as usual.

Stop your planned messaging and update it – cancel automated marketing and adjust it. Some of what you had planned will now come across as out of touch or insensitive.

Marketing that features social gatherings at a BBQ, and b-roll for TV of busy offices with no social distancing being practiced, shows that you are not agile and it risks making you irrelevant.

If you have any communications that are not specific to the challenges and realities of this pandemic, you must be certain that people will want to give it their attention and that they will find it relevant.

Don’t annoy people.

How many emails are we all receiving from businesses we don’t remember ever speaking with, letting us know that (even though we don’t have a clue who they are) that they are here for us during this difficult time or that they are still open! Those businesses have now made themselves annoying and aren’t who we will be keen on engaging with when spending does increase.

Businesses that are going for the hard sell right now are insensitive and missing the opportunity to connect with their clients and potential clients. People overwhelmingly choose to do business with brands that they trust, connect with, see value in, and genuinely like. And so those businesses that are not insensitive to the fear and economic difficulty that people are facing right now, are costing themselves potential clients and damaging their reputation. If there was a possibility of people spending money with them once restrictions lift and spending improves, that is now less likely and they might even unsubscribe in the process. People’s radar for self-seeking marketing is higher than normal right now – so don’t be tone deaf to what your audience is thinking, feeling and doing right now.

DOs

Do be a helpful expert.

Make sure that every interaction adds value. Make sure that any time you take up someone’s time and attention with your marketing and communications, that they feel it was beneficial to them. The businesses that come alongside their audience now and support them with empathy and are generous in sharing their expertise, are creating preference for their brand – both now and later when there is an increase in spending potential. This is your opportunity to create memorable connections that you cannot buy. Be genuine in your desire to help, and take advantage of the more level playing field that exists with so many businesses in the same boat – for example, businesses of all sizes and with all budgets, are working from home and broadcasting from their laptop or phone. And many businesses pulling back or not communicating strategically with a long-term view right now, leaving room for you to step in and take that position.

Do – show instead of tell.

Instead of telling people that you are the best, show them. Demonstrate your unique selling points in the content that you share, your proven and recognised expertise, and the way that you communicate. It’s more palatable and believable, in a time when people are looking for certainty and security.

And finally, remember that not marketing and communicating right now is not an option. Silence leads to assumptions, including the belief that your business must not be operating or performing well because it has gone quiet.

This is an opportunity to create connections that benefit your business today and in the future.

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