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How to generate positive news for your business during COVID-19 lockdown
During these days of uncertainty, with many people understandably fearful, it’s vital to carry on marketing your business so that it’s well placed to bounce back when the coronavirus crisis has passed. The strategy you adopt and the tone you strike are all important. Any external communication during these unprecedented times – when many people are ill, and many are dying – has to be done with tact, empathy and mindful marketing.
While it’s still early in the COVID-19 quarantine, we’ve already been asked to help our clients adjust their communication approaches. So we thought it might be useful to share some ideas for generating positive news during these challenging times.
1. Thought leadership
Now is a good time for promoting thought leadership pieces. Insightful and informative articles written (or ghostwritten) by senior figures in your clients’ organisations will be welcomed by journalists currently overwhelmed by the sheer quantity and ever-changing nature of COVID-19 related news.
While the article could address a wide audience – perhaps about appropriate business responses to COVID-19 as staff and customers begin getting used to a new normal – it still needs to inform customers and engage with them. Business leaders should be seen as a source of truth during a crisis, providing relevant and useful information.
One of the easiest ways to demonstrate thought leadership is by being active on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. These are great platforms to connect with your ideal customers or people in your industry and share content with them.
Video can also be used for thought leadership. How about doing an Instagram Live Q&A where your audience can ask you questions? Not only is this a perfect way to demonstrate your thought leadership, but if you own a business, live video is also a great way to increase customer engagement.
2. What you are doing to help
Businesses need to find ways to remain relevant to their clients, even if they are unable to trade with them at the moment. This means they need to find ways to be involved in their customers’ lives at home.
There are many ways of doing this. You could run a survey, launch a competition – the prize being a special offer relating to your product – or you could run podcasts about what you are doing behind the scenes to keep your business healthy until the COVID-19 crisis passes. Your customers will want to know that you’ll be able to bounce back quickly once the crisis passes and the more you can demonstrate to them what you are doing to ensure this will happen, the better.
To help customers at home, keep in touch remotely via video, email, podcasts and so on. Create videos demonstrating your product or offer live video tours to keep your customers engaged. Write press releases about what you are doing and post the news across social media platforms.
3. Show your human side
You must communicate with empathy. This is not a weakness. Acknowledging that almost no one will remain untouched by this pandemic and expressing empathy in your communications will be appreciated by your customers – and your staff. Be mindful that some of the people you want to reach may have tested positive for the disease, family members may have died and many more will be self-isolating as a direct result of the illness or due to government guidelines.
Set up a community fund to help people who are struggling in your community. You may have staff who are regular gym goers – maybe they’d be happy to create a daily fitness video for your customers. Or perhaps you could arrange to deliver food to the most vulnerable in your community. All these actions create angles for positive news stories.
4. Answer your customers questions
It is really important to understand the perspective of your customers so that they feel reassured and safe. Practising compassionate communication during times of stress builds trust and enhances a brand’s reputation.
Whatever business sector your company operates in, customers, staff and external stakeholders will want regular updates about what you are doing to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. So it is vital you find out what their worries are. Email your existing and potential customers and any other stakeholders with a short survey to find out the questions they’d like answering. Then you could produce a podcast or video, answering those concerns – and post it on your website – and across social media. The more open and empathetic you are, the better the communication will be received. This type of initiative could also make a positive news story for your business.
5. Host an open forum or webinar
Whatever industry you are in, a great way to communicate with a large audience is to host an open forum or organise a webinar. These kinds of activities are not only hugely helpful to customers, but they are also news stories in their own right. During the COVID-19 outbreak, people want to read about what businesses are doing to help and by communicating externally you’ll be doing a lot to build your brand so that you are in the best place possible to bounce back when the current crisis has passed.
We hope these tips help you with your communications during the current coronavirus crisis – and in times of future crises. We always advise our clients to respond to a crisis swiftly, in a clear and coordinated manner. As COVID-19 will leave no one untouched, regular updates to customers are vital. Businesses that do this effectively will be the ones that not only survive this crisis but also come out stronger and thrive.