6 Messaging Adjustments to Remain Relevant During COVID-19

April 2nd, 2020 by Sam Merritt

As digital marketers, a global crisis like COVID-19 (also known as the coronavirus) can affect all aspects of your digital campaigns, from advertising spend to messaging. The faster you can pivot, the better for your business and for your consumer.

Although there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to handling each campaign or client, here are six key ground rules to follow to stay relevant in the midst of any crisis.

Graphic showing growing cases of COVID-19

Align with Local and Federal Agencies and Authorities

Ensure your marketing aligns with federal and local mandates and encourages safe and approved behavior. Marketing messages out-of-step with government recommendations may come off as insensitive or even be interpreted as malicious.

  • Verify that your marketing campaigns do not call for behavior that puts your clients or potential customers at legal risk or in danger. If so, put a pause on that campaign until the crisis is over.
  • Sign up for alerts to stay up-to-date on all federal and local decisions, since circumstances change daily (and even hourly.) This will allow you to update your marketing to keep them timely.
  • Use local and federal officials as your guide as to when you can resume paused marketing efforts.

Update Messaging for Closures

During a crisis, it’s likely that some businesses will have to shut down or limit their operations.

  • Pause marketing that encourages any immediate action that they cannot task. For example, if you work in the museum, zoo, or tourism industries, preserve resources by pausing any marketing that encourages visits to your attractions.
  • If customers already purchased tickets to your attractions for specific dates, provide messaging about how you will honor those existing tickets on future dates.
  • Promote opening dates only when you have a clear picture of when your attractions can reopen.

Review All Creative

While maintaining business and bringing in revenue is important during difficult and uncertain times, make sure your marketing is in tune with the current climate.

  • Review all of your copy to ensure the tone reflects current sensitivities and realities.
  • Consider local context when rewriting copy. Are customers and audiences in your market more or less sensitive to the portrayal of a particular issue?
  • Scrutinize your visuals to ensure they reflect current sensitivities. As governments have instituted social distancing guidelines, pay careful attention to creative that depicts interactions such as hand shakes, hugs, and close groups.
  • Constantly reassess campaigns. What felt comfortable to say or portray two weeks ago may no longer feel appropriate.

Promote Digital Consultations

If you are a doctor, lawyer or in another progressional service, your customers may still need your expertise during COVID-19 and other crises, even if your offices remain closed to the public. If you are able to make the switch to digital consultations, focus your marketing on promoting these services.

  • Shift all marketing calls-to-action from “Schedule a Consultation” to “Schedule a Virtual Consultation.” Not only does this set the expectation of how and where you will fulfill your services, but it also indicates that you are abiding by all local and federal mandates.

Maintain Awareness Through Virtual Content

Stay engaged with your audience and maintain brand awareness by offering fun and/or useful online content. Your audience, especially caregivers of young children, are looking for ways to keep their children entertaining while still being safe.

  • Consider virtual tours If you are in the museum, zoo, or tourism industries.
  • Offer downloadable entertainment, such as coloring sheets, crossword puzzles, or at-home scavenger hunts.

Consider Optics When It’s Time to Transition

There will eventually be a light at the end of the tunnel. Make a plan to slowly transition back to your campaigns that were running before the crisis hit.

    • Review all of your campaigns before relaunching and be sure to add in any new, relevant information that might have to come to light during the crisis.
    • Refresh your creative messages to articulate the mood of the current climate, post crisis.

Unsure where to begin? Take advantage of a free consulting session with one of our strategists today!


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