If developments last week around attempts to contain the spread of the Coronavirus have taught us anything about communications, it?s how a sudden change in context can have a massive impact on the way we connect.
I?ve been reflecting on this in my recent work with a client to help them develop a content plan that better integrates their digital and in-person brand experiences.
We’re only just beginning to see the extent of the personal and socio-economic impact of the spread of the virus. As solopreneurs and small business owners we’re very much affected by its ripples and will need to double down on our efforts to offer solutions to our communities.
But, how do we choose calm over chaos to meaningfully connect with our audiences at a time of fear and isolation? Here are some suggestions:
1. Go back to your values
We can?t deny that we live in unsettling times when we?re advised to stock up our Corona cupboards and wait indoors until it passes.? As entrepreneurs, though, the way to free ourselves from paralysing fear is to focus on our values.
Revisiting their values last week helped my client to inform their tone of voice and key messaging around their services. We worked together to craft an initial message aligned with those values.
2. Share your voice
Your clients and potential clients need to hear about your expertise – whether it?s in health and wellbeing, finances or business. Ask yourself: Are there specific ways that I can help, inform or reassure my audiences in a time of misinformation and uncertainty through my content and copy?
3. Be timely and consistent
Timing is also important in delivering messages and that?s why having a plan is crucial. In a crisis, it?s important to gather the facts quickly from trusted sources and apply them to your own service. Stick to those messages to help reassure your community. Further down the line, gathering stories and content that inspire hope will help build your community.
4. Address your audience?s concerns directly
An email I received last week from the CEO of a well-known UK home services agency reminded me again that we need to be attuned to our audience?s concerns. In it he outlined their measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including requiring staff to use hand sanitizer every time they visit a property; assurances that none of their current staff has left the UK in the last two months, and staff body temperature checks before starting work. He ended it with an announcement of a ?new antiviral sanitizing service coming soon!?.
That last line may smack of blatant opportunism, but the email shows that they had considered and addressed their clients? fears in relation to their service.
5. Find digital ways to meaningfully connect with your community
The key is to keep connecting. Brainstorm ways that you can use digital to connect more meaningfully with your audiences – especially if you rely more on in-person experiences.
I advised my client to focus on where they could make the most impact through the use of existing digital communications channels to initiate discussion and engagement around the facts (and fiction) to defuse fear.
Sometimes it may mean introducing new ways of connecting through video or audio, webinar, live stream to market your product or service that you?ve never thought of before.?
6. Watch your words
I?m not talking here about Donald Trump?s two ?very big words? (three and four syllables): ?national emergency?. But maybe I am. Overly emotive words, such as ?deadly?, ?catastrophic? ?terror?, and even ’emergency’ can contribute to a fear-mongering culture, if used unwisely.
Clarity and simplicity are best.
This outbreak is a classic story of David vs Goliath that has the potential to inspire and bring us together. Stories of the devastating impact of the virus keep us alive to its danger and move us to compassion for those who are vulnerable. But stories also have the power to elevate and inspire people to hope and move us to take action.
If you need help with crafting your thought leadership content, establishing your tone of voice and telling and sharing your community?s stories, I?m offering 20% off my package to help you do just that.?