Crisis Marketing 2020: Advice for Content Marketers
This news digest is brought to you by The Content Council Board of Directors
Be Flexible—As Flexible As You Can Be.
Andy Seibert, Managing Director, IMPRINT
Our advice to financial marketers now is to be as flexible as you can. Your clients will need increased communications from you about the virus and its implications for your business. Some of those elements may be continually unfolding, requiring an ongoing cadence of updates. At the same time, you and your colleagues may be contending with your own business contingency scenarios. Be ready to adapt even the best marketing strategy ever so you can provide the communications your clients need from you now. Read our six recommendations on crisis communications during this time of COVID-19.
Be a Light in the Darkness.
Joe Stella, VP Business Development, GLC
Now is the time for brands and organizations to ramp up their content marketing efforts to their constituencies. For GLC’s clients—primarily professional/trade associations and healthcare organizations—it’s important that they help their audiences navigate the sea of information swelling up around them. “We know that our members are being greatly impacted by this virus in so many ways,” says Tony Priore, CMO of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). “The regulatory world surrounding their practices and hospitals continues to shift and they face new stressors and demands from their colleagues and families. The Academy’s goal is to help guide them and advocate on their behalf during this trying and difficult time.” Virtual events, blog posts, webinars and digital content hubs are all great ways to keep audiences informed, particularly when they are likely working from home. “We’ve developed a web-based hub where AAOS members can easily access a wide range of relevant and credible COVID-19 resources and information,” says Priore. “This new resource contains information on COVID-19 topics that many of our members have identified as significant to their profession and well-being. We are monitoring the situation and updating the hub on a continuous basis as new and relevant information emerges.”
As new information is available, AAOS alerts members through email, member newsletters and social media. To find more resources, watch Lessons Learned from the Communications Front Lines and read The Importance of Content During a Crisis.
Be Clear and Stay on Target.
Zack Bryant, Principal, Strategy, Journey Group
As we all rush to deploy untested strategies to sustain connections with our audiences, we recommend pausing to remember which stories we can uniquely tell and why. Brands undermine hard-earned attention when they message outside their sphere of influence. Of course, your brand is aware of the novel Coronavirus—there’s no need to say so. Instead, focus on producing thoughtful content that supports your existing core messages and resists the temptation to virtue signal. Host virtual events, distribute content for free, and offer to listen to your customers’ concerns. Clear communication in a crisis is truly vital, so be sure you’re not just adding to the noise.
Jacqueline Loch, EVP Customer Innnovation, SJC Content
This is not business as usual, and we are all in this together finding our way through this unchartered territory, one day at a time.
How you treat your clients as an agency and how brands treat consumers now, will impact how you and your company are perceived when this is over. With impact to consumer mobility, media consumption and how consumers interact with retailers, combined with the likelihood that COVID-19 is a long game, an updated content strategy is a part of doing business in this new economy.
Many of our clients are consumer brands and national retailers, here are some of the strategies that we are using to pivot their content marketing strategies:
- Review your pre-COVID-19 content strategy: You don’t want to appear tone-deaf, out-of-touch or disrespectful to your customers. Keep what is still relevant and pull back the rest for when the time is right to distribute.
- Flexible is the new content strategy: Shift from tactical sales messaging of your priority products and services, to service-driven content that will help your customers now. Focus on service content, on being human and on being helpful. Focus on what matters now and be flexible to adapt next week’s plan, to what matters next week.
- Focus on producing content for direct-to-consumer channels: Produce new and relevant content for Amazon, owned media, social media posts, live streams and e-newsletter marketing to inform, inspire and educate consumers on all that is available on e-commerce channels.
- Listen. Inform. Inspire. Entertain. Help: Focus on social sentiment and key search terms around your products and services. There’s a wealth of consumer-generated digital information that you can use to re-direct your content marketing into something that is relevant and helpful in a meaningful way.
- Form a content task force: We are working daily with many of our clients in a COVID-19 content task force capacity. We are using daily video conference calls as check-ins with all stakeholders from client teams, to client and inter-agency teams — working in a collaborative and flexible way like never before.
- Be human, not corporate: We are all in this together and your brand is about people. Use authentic language and focus on getting the right message out at the right time. Consumers want to know that you are taking care of your own corporate family too, how you’re treating your staff and how you are doing your part to be a good corporate citizen.
Be Patient—and Breathe
Linda Descano, CFA, EVP, Red Havas
Two best-in-class examples of content strategies are from companies that we are proud to call our clients — please visit our website here to see the complete post.
This is an unprecedented time that’s difficult for organizations, teams and individuals, in both similar and unique ways. Your employees, partners, agencies and consumers all under intense pressure as everyone seeks to juggle family and professional obligations during this period.
So, we are reminding our clients that the COVID-19 pandemic is a marathon and not a sprint. And thus it will be important to pace themselves and their teams to ensure they have the energy and strength to sustain their organization through the duration.
And, yes, as my fellow board members have noted, we have to block-and-tackle the day-to-day communications challenges while keeping an eye on the implications on our long-term content strategy.
But most of all, we need to lead our teams with humanity and empathy so they can be their best selves under the most challenging and unsettling circumstances. As leaders, we will need to practice patience and agility more than ever before. We will have to be prepared to prioritize and re-prioritize on a daily—if not hourly basis—on what’s most critical now, both at work and at home. We have to consider the implications of this pandemic in the short term as well as the long term, so that our organizations are not just surviving it but navigating it strategically.