What You Can Learn From Crisis Communications for Your Business

Work documents and notes spread out over table

As the world changes in response to the novel coronavirus, businesses are pivoting their strategies to crisis communication models that can keep audiences safe, informed, and engaged. Marketing campaigns are being altered, reformed, and even scrapped altogether in favor of content that meets changing audience needs.

To make the most of your efforts right now, we’re here to teach a few keys to marketing during a crisis.


1. Know Your Audience

A well-defined audience should be at the heart of any marketing campaign. You can’t effectively communicate to someone you don’t understand or can’t identify. While your existing strategies and campaigns might have detailed audience information, you can’t unilaterally apply that understanding to new content.

Just like your business is shifting, so are the needs of individual consumers. People have changed incomes, altered day-to-day schedules, and shifting priorities. In order to effectively communicate right now, you need to relearn your audience. What do they care about? What is their new relationship with your business? And how can you best meet them where they are?

Audiences will respond to content that seems to understand their shifting reality, and many consumers will bristle at content that overlooks the concerns of this changing landscape.


2. Change Campaigns and Timelines

As you restructure your marketing focus, you’ll have to deal with existing campaign rollouts. Campaigns in progress will need to be evaluated to determine their value and their timing. Campaigns waiting for launch may need to be postponed, cancelled, replaced, or updated.

To determine what’s best for your campaigns, rely on what you’ve learned about your audience. You’ll also need to weigh your investment in the campaigns so far, as well as what others in your industry are doing.

You’ll also have to deal with accelerated timelines with new campaigns. If you have created new content directly in response to the current crisis, you’ll still want to abide by best practices for strategic marketing content. Don’t forget important pieces of a campaign just because you’re in a rush to get content to your audience. You should still determine your audience, strategies, and evaluation metrics.


3. Give Dynamic Responses

In the online landscape, you likely know that consumers expect timely and dynamic responses. Because they have constant access to information on social media and other outlets, consumers expect the most up-to-date information from the brands they support and trust.

As you communicate with your audience, make sure your responses are dynamic. Let your customers know about the latest changes in your business practices. When possible, give people responses that are unique to each question and situation. Don’t rely only on scheduled posts or canned replies.

Many people will want to support businesses they love right now: make sure the people connected to you know the best ways to help and engage with you.


4. Invest in Long-Term Gains

While some immediate returns like sales might be down right now, your business can still strategically invest in long-term gains. One area with great possibilities is search engine optimization. Augmenting your digital efforts can make a big difference when so many people are spending more time at home and connected online.

SEO efforts put your content in front of consumers. With the right keywords, your content will show up in relevant online searches on Google and other platforms. And great meta data will engage readers and drive website traffic.

Depending on how much you decide to invest, you can update a few pages on your website or even make dynamic, timely content with a blog. If you gain ground in places like SEO now, those relationships can foster an environment for loyal consumers both now and in the future.


5. Foster Meaningful Relationships

Another evergreen investment you can focus on right now? Relationships. Relationships drive any good business. Many of our other tips here discuss how you can foster positive relationships with potential customers during this time, but you shouldn’t forget about relationships with influencers and traditional media gatekeepers.

You can use this time to strengthen your pitch skills so that you’re ready to reach out about relevant campaigns and events when you have more information to share. You can also spend this time researching relevant gatekeepers and connecting with them in organic, meaningful ways. If you support them with clicks and comment right now, that relationship can develop into something more over time.


6. Lead With Empathy

Many people are struggling right now. While you still want to support your business and your bottom line, you don’t want your efforts to come off as tone deaf, and you certainly don’t want audiences to think that you prioritize marketing over people.

If you lead all of your communication with empathy and authenticity, you can show what you really care about. Consumers will recognize and remember how businesses respond during this crisis, and they will invest their energy in places that share empathy with them.