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Andriana Boyrikova: The do’s and don’ts of crafting your business’s crisis content strategy

(Editor’s note: Need a post-pandemic business content strategy? Connect with Andriana at AB Media & Communications.)

The current situation is unprecedented and with lots of challenges, but there is something you need to remember: You have a business, and while you should be in social isolation, your content shouldn’t be. From a content marketing perspective, there are lots of things you can still do that will hold you in good stead when life goes back to normal and other things you shouldn’t do at any cost.

I can’t provide you with a silver bullet for your content strategy. But I can share with you a few strategies from my knowledge of crisis management in PR and content marketing that you – an owner of or a marketer at a small or medium-sized business – can adapt and incorporate in your content strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic and in its aftermath.

Don’t disappear

In times of crisis you need to communicate with your audience. We are in a state of social isolation, but your online company presence doesn’t have to be. At a time when people are scared and uncertain what the future holds (I know you are scared. I am too!) you can’t suddenly disappear. You need to reassure your prospects and customers you are still there. Besides, you have worked hard and you owe it to your business to be remembered and found when the crisis is over.

If your business had been hit hard and you had to lay off your marketing and communications employee(s), keep posting content … yourself! When things go back to normal, and eventually they will, people are going to start looking for you and your services or products. If you haven’t been helping and engaging with them, guess who they are going to go to? Your competitors.

Don’t reinvent, adapt fast

You don’t need to reinvent your whole content strategy, but you need to adapt it fast. With the introduction of social distancing and the cancelling of events, it’s time for you to get flexible and brainstorm new ways to connect with your prospects and customers. Think virtual: virtual product launch briefs, live streaming webinars, videos, tutorials. There are so many technologies to choose from: pick those that suit you best. In this way, you will not only stay connected with your audience but also show them you are ahead of the curve and able to embrace challenges.

Even though you can’t predict what is going to happen in the next few months, you need to define a short-term content strategy (1-3 months ahead) and take control of the things that can be easily adjusted and monitored: e.g. posts on your social media channels, emails, blog posts, FAQ.

Don’t advertise, help

Your content shouldn’t advertise but help your audience. Sales are lower during a crisis but content that helps your audience now will help you later when life goes back to normal. Use this time to build and reinforce trust with your prospects and customers.

Stay true to your company identity and your Why; stay relevant and valuable with your content. The headlines are changing by the minute. People feel increasingly uncertain about the present let alone the future. It’s important to reassure your customers. This means sticking to your values and providing them with content that is relevant and valuable to them.

Don’t publish only COVID-19 related content

COVID-19 stories are bombarding us everywhere: TV, radio, social media channels, podcasts, emails. Leave the distribution of COVID-19 stories, facts, and hypotheses to the trusted and authoritative organizations whose job is to do that. Of course, you have to acknowledge the current situation, empathize with your audience and show them you understand how they feel. But this does’t mean you should add to the noise.

It’s time to look at your buyer persona profiles and create content relevant to them instead of jumping on the bandwagon and sharing COVID-19 stories or writing blog posts about best remote working practices. (I suggest you incorporate the latter in your internal communications.) If you’re going to say something, make it matter.

Keep your HR policies to internal communications

It seems like every company under the sun is spamming with content about measures they have taken to protect the safety and well-being of their employees. While it is great companies are enforcing measures to help governments combat the pandemic, sharing this in their content isn’t necessarily relevant and valuable to their customers.

Of course, you should notify your prospects and customers that you are still able meet their needs – or if your business had to shut down, tell them how you will move forward – reassure them about health and safety precautions, and announce any expected disruptions to your products or services. But don’t get into painstaking descriptions what steps your company is taking to protect your community: Keep this to your internal communications.

Don’t overwhelm your audience

Life has shifted almost entirely online and it’s more important than ever to bolster your online strategy. But be careful because there is a thin line between sharing content that is relevant and valuable to your target audience and spamming with what you consider important (HR internal practices, work-at-home tips, COVID-19 only content).

You might also be tempted to start posting twice a day on your social media channels, writing two new blog posts per week and making videos. But take a moment and ask yourself: Is this consistent with your long-term content plan, and will you be able to keep up once the crisis is over? There is a high chance your aggressive online marketing during the crisis might be misinterpreted as a way to put your business on the spotlight and (up)sell your products and services. And this is something you don’t want. Remember: quality always overrides quantity.

Conclusion

Try not to think about today but about how you want your business to be perceived when the crisis is over. The last thing you want to do now is overwhelm your audience, appearing deaf to what is happening or trying to take advantage of the situation.

As there is no one-size-fits-all road map on what can be really effective in your content marketing, the best approach is to adapt, test, stay relevant and helpful, but above all not to let the crisis isolate your business.

I hope you have found these tips helpful. What’s your content strategy during crisis? Let me know in the comments.

About the author:

Andriana Boyrikova was born and raised in Pazardzhik, Bulgaria. Later, her adventure-seeking spirit brought her to Groningen, Netherlands, where she completed a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Groningen.

Following her graduation, Andriana decided to pursue her passion for telling stories and now she is working as a freelance content marketer, contributor, and writer in Groningen. Andriana is interested in high-tech innovations, sustainability, and women’s empowerment.

Read more from Andriana here.

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