COVID-19 has changed the advertising environment for everyone, and while some brands have done a superb job refocusing their messaging during this crisis (Budweiser, Verizon), other brands haven’t quite hit the mark (Volvo, Amazon). How you speak to people right now greatly influences your brand’s future, though. Of the 12,000 people surveyed around the world for an Edelman Trust Barometer Special Coronavirus Report, 65% say how brands respond to the pandemic will have a “huge impact” on their likelihood to buy their products.
Messaging during this time must balance between your central marketing goal of building and retaining authentic, meaningful relationships and not appearing tone-deaf to hardships of consumers. To help brands better communicate during this pandemic, Pinterest recently released its own content guide. This guide contains several helpful tips for advertisers and marketers on how to appropriately speak to consumers during a crisis.
1. Understand What You Have the Authority to Say (and Not Say)
In times of crisis, it’s important to take an impartial view of your business. What do you provide to consumers? For what do they look to your brand to provide expertise or leadership? How can you play a role in responding to a crisis? While of course, your specific response depends on the nature of the crisis, you still need to assess what your brand can and can’t say to its consumers. Your goal is to add value to the current conversation, whether that be a PSA, helpful tips and advice, reassurance or relevant information. No one is asking you to reinvent the wheel; just figure out what you do best, then do that.
2. Show Compassion and Understanding
Every brand has its own voice. Maybe your thing is dry humor, sarcasm or snarky commentary, or maybe you haven’t given your voice much thought at all. Regardless, the tone of voice you take is never more important than during high-stress public crises. Instead of fear, channel comfort and motivation. Instead of preaching, offer understanding. Instead of indifference, give compassion.
In difficult times, it shouldn’t be your place to ask anything of your audiences, but instead to find ways to lend support, especially emotional support. Show your audience that you’re thinking about them, not yourself.
3. Emphasize Inclusivity and Different Types of Hardships
A crisis will touch the lives of people in different ways. During the coronavirus outbreak for instance, some people have lost their jobs, some people have needed to adapt their jobs to drastically different working conditions and some people’s jobs require them to continue to work on the frontlines. The range of situations should be considered in your brand’s messaging to ensure you aren’t speaking to one group while appearing insensitive or indifferent to others.
4. Stay Positive
This tip may be the most important during times of high anxiety and uncertainty for your consumers. Let your brand be a point of positivity in the sea of chatter surrounding users online, a reminder that together every hardship can be overcome, and that these hard times will be in the rearview mirror one day, too. Help your consumers visualize a better future by taking steps to make their present circumstances better.
By remaining positive, empathetic and honest, you’re ensuring your brand is a source of pleasant feelings for your audience. This favorable reaction to your business will benefit you long after a crisis passes and make long-lasting, loyal customers for many years to come.
Reach out to The Ward Group to start working out your messaging and media plan for the current crisis and for the many good and challenging times to come.