What can you say

Crisis communications during COVID-19.

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In unprecedented times like these, we can all find ourselves at a loss for words. And if you’re a marketer within the food system, it’s difficult to know what you can and can’t say—or more importantly, what you should and shouldn’t say. To help guide you through, here’s a helpful list of dos and don’ts when developing your crisis communications plan to maintain and grow customer relationships through the COVID-19 pandemic.

DON’T act as though it’s business as usual.

This isn’t something that can be swept under the rug. Continuing with your messaging as though nothing is happening patronizes your audience and could come across as though you’re ignoring the only issue on people’s minds right now. This strategy definitely won’t connect and may even offend.

DO address the issue, but stay positive.

People know it’s bad. They hear how bad it is in every headline, social post and news story. They want to connect with brands that can show them the light at the end of the tunnel—that it is possible to cope. Don’t go over the top with promises of sunshine, but keep your tone positive, supportive and encouraging.

DON’T make a sale.

Now is not the time for the hard sell. Consumers will smell opportunism from a mile away and won’t react kindly. Leveraging the current situation to maximize sales will have the opposite effect from what was intended.

DO make a connection.

People may not be buying as much right now. But they are paying attention. Whether consciously or subconsciously, they’re noting how brands are handling this and making future purchasing decisions according to their approval or disapproval. Instead of selling a service or product, keep your messaging focused on what you’re doing to help the situation—from your consumers to your team members to your community.

DON’T feel like you need to keep up with your normal marketing communications pace.

It’s okay to take a step back right now. The world is dealing with things far more important. And if you come across as overly aggressive in this current climate, it will turn consumers off of your brand long beyond the crisis. Don’t shut down, but consider pivoting from traditional communications and finding more personal ways to connect.

DO get more social.

More than ever as we all are isolating, people are turning to social media to make connections. So go ahead and participate. As noted before though, be careful not to make strong sales pitches. Instead, share your knowledge in your particular field to help your consumers live better during this time, with or without your brand. For example, instead of selling a food product or ingredient, offer up a tasty recipe that can be made with things most people already have in the house.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many nuances to how and when brands can or should be heard. If you’d like more guidance in developing your crisis communication strategies amid COVID-19, reach out and let us help.

For more insights on creative marketing solutions, contact Mark Gale at mark.g@charlestonoriwg.com.

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