5 COVID-19 Communications Strategies

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If you’re like many Americans, COVID-19 has upset more than your morning coffee routine, it’s disrupted your whole way of being.

Fortunately, for those of us gifted with a career in advertising, marketing or communications, the COVID crisis might offer more than a break from the norm.  In fact, it may be a beautiful opportunity to lean into our creative thinking allowing us to reinvent the very brands we serve.

No doubt, the likes of the COVID-19 crisis are like none we’ve ever seen.  But rest assured, even during uncertainty, creativity reigns supreme and there are powerful lessons we’ve yet to learn.

For those of us willing to take on the challenge of engaging with our audiences, we have been presented a unique opportunity to inspire existing and new customers alike with messages of hope, care, and love.

As we all scramble to reinvent our businesses, below are 5 quick ways you can protect your brand and your sanity in the days and weeks ahead, while setting your brand up for an amazing snap back when we get to the other side of this crisis.

Tip #1:  Lean In and Take the Lead

In a crisis, it can sometimes be easier to tuck your tail, bury your head in the sand and just wait until it all blows over.  However, that’s not what great leaders do.  After all, true leadership is tested and made pure through those fiery moments and uncomfortable situations that force us to stand on the core values of our brand.

As such, strong brands know how to take the lead, speak up and share the heart of who they are with the world while acknowledging the gravity of the moment. The fact of the matter is, your customers need to hear from you now more than ever so be sure to get back to the basics by creating communications materials that speak to the unique value and brand principles on which your organization was built.

Sharing messages that create emotional connections with your customers will not only build trust and credibility but more importantly, it will help you establish the brand authority that is needed to make your organization a trusted and reliable source for years to come.

Tip #2:  Establish A Positive Brand Voice

Now more than ever, establishing a positive brand voice matters.  Amid panicky emails, hurried responses and formal COVID messages full of CDC and World Health Care Organization warnings and guidelines, brands that establish a positive and encouraging brand voice are memorable, embraced and welcomed.

In fact, people are looking for, no less craving, authentic human connection. And while you may not be able to be there for them in person, brands that establish a positive brand voice will easily disrupt the communications culture of the moment and shine like the beautiful diamonds they are.

From interactive classes on Instagram to thoughtful tips or financial resources, customers will appreciate you sharing ideas on how to survive life while social distancing and they will readily welcome the new ideas on how to embrace our new normal.

The COVID-19 crisis offers us a great opportunity to humanize our brands and transactions and establish a positive position that will go a long way to break through cluttered messaging by showing how much you care.

Tip #3:  Sell Solutions Not Services

While sending quick self-serving communications materials begging customers to continue doing business with you may be the knee-jerk reaction for most, slowing down your response just long enough to consider your customers’ current reality matters and should be your first consideration.

While using your regular sales strategy may seem tempting, those who take the time to focus on selling solutions above their services will fare better in the long run. Brands that exploit their customers’ fear or that shamelessly continue to sell, sell, sell without regard to the sensitive nature of the impact of the COVID-crisis on customers’ bottom lines may find their bottom lines similarly impacted in the weeks and months ahead.

Undoubtedly, the brands that survive will be those who put their customers first and that look for ways to provide their customers with real-time solutions to the problems being presented by the crisis.

Showing how your brand, product or service can help the greater good will not only relieve stress for others, but it will more easily open inherent lines of business that you may be overlooking when you’re laser-focused on selling your traditional hard lines of business. 

Tip #4:  Spotlight Your People

One of the most beautiful gifts the COVID crisis is offering us is the unique opportunity to market and showcase the people behind our brands.  By sharing the stories of employees who are on the front lines each day responding to the crisis, you can ensure your customers continue to have a positive experience with your brand while leveraging the viral support of your entire workforce.

For example, has one of your employees gone above and beyond to help a distressed customer? Did a leader in your organization recently volunteer at one of the emergency resource centers last week?  If so, showcase these feel-good stories about the people in your organization and how they are working hard behind the scenes to make a difference in the lives of others.

Sharing newsworthy stories about the people who anchor your brand will go a long way to create a positive brand momentum for you during the crisis.

People love to know that you are still making a difference and we all want to feel connected to each other in a time such as this.  Uplifting your employees will not only boost morale but will also make it easier for your brand to secure media coverage and positive publicity in return. 

Tip #5:  Choose JOY over Stress

When it’s all said and done, we will all get through this.  While we didn’t get to choose the situation, we do get to choose how we respond to it. That’s why brands who are intentional about spreading light and joy in the midst of anxiety-inducing communications clutter are likely to inspire a new generation of products, services, and customers on the other side of COVID.

Now is a great time for companies to rise to the occasion of helping others by spreading a sense of peace, calm and joy to their customers, their employees and those whom they serve.

By finding ways to make each other smile, create more community while socially distancing and keeping ourselves happy and whole, we have a unique opportunity as an industry to show others how we can collectively find better ways to live, work and play.

The COVID-19 crisis won’t last forever.  However, while it remains, perhaps we as marketers can lean into the realities it is presenting us with by offering the world more creativity, hope, and love and by repositioning our brands to reflect the very values we say matter most.

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