Creating Sensitive Content and Messaging During the Pandemic

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With so many people still experiencing the worst effects of the pandemic, brands need to be careful in their messaging and content lest they want to appear inhumane and out of touch. Here are some interesting consumer statistics every brand needs to know:

  • Younger consumers are driven by value as well as quality and purpose-driven alignment.
  • Spending has recovered, but there are still disparities from one industry to another.
  • Brand loyalty continues to decrease as shoppers are more inclined to experiment and with various brands having trouble procuring materials because of a disrupted supply chain.
  • Conscious consumerism continues to grow in relevance, which means shoppers are gaining more awareness of how their favorite products are created and how these processes impact the planet and the most vulnerable in society.
  • The pandemic left a financial burden on many Americans—one that they will continue to feel and experience for years to come.

Now more than ever, business owners need to be careful about the messaging they send on their marketing and promotional materials if they want to engage and keep audiences. Here are some essential tips for creating sensitive content and messaging in a year like 2021.

Be sensitive

COVID-19 has stolen so many things at a macro level, but it has also robbed individuals of many precious things—people they love, sources of income, and even their mental health and well-being. Even if our messaging does not intend to do so, it’s still pretty easy to come off as insensitive or exploitative in our materials.

With most of our lives already online for the whole world to see and consume, one social media faux pas can instantly result in your brand’s cancellation, and you might experience long-term and far-reaching consequences for a single error. Here are some tips for being sensitive in your messaging and content:

  • Give certain situations the gravitas they deserve. For example, if you need to close your restaurant for a few days due to COVID-19 infections, be straight and upfront about it in your copy. There’s no need to try to joke or use memes in your announcement.
  • Keep your tone positive, helpful, and inspirational. As much as possible, avoid trying to be casual, cute, or humorous. It may not align with your brand’s tone of voice, but you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do that in the future when the pandemic is over. For now, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Avoid insensitive words, like “killer,” “contagious,” “viral,” “spread,” “infectious,” and others, especially if your business involves health care or elderly care. Consider partnering with agencies like Care Marketing to learn how to create content and copy that is appropriate for your specific industry.

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Find ways to contribute and add value

Consumers are actually savvier than we might expect. They can tell when brands are just out to make a  profit. They’re not naive and know that businesses also need to make a sale. However, it’s off-putting for them when we practice hard selling in a time like COVID-19, especially if what we’re selling is non-essential.

If our products and services are non-essential, one of the best ways we can keep our audiences engaged is by offering value to them. Right now, it’s not about conversion; it’s about contribution.

What about your product or service will add value to their lives if they decide to purchase? How can it help them through the pandemic? How can it help them help others? How do you help others through your business? You can add purpose to your brand by strengthening your corporate social responsibility (CSR). You can also make a certain advocacy a centerpiece of your brand identity during the pandemic.

Ensure accuracy in your posts

Misinformation and disinformation are some of the worst effects of the digital revolution, and the last thing you want is for your brand to be a platform for these lies. When creating content that involves providing helpful tips and information, make sure to use credible COVID-19 sources. The best sources for reliable information are the following:

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • World Health Organization
  • Your state’s Department of Public Health website

As a brand owner, you are also responsible for how your messaging can affect and impact your audience. Extend compassion, be sensitive to their plight, and provide accurate tips and information—and you can be sure to build trust and goodwill among your audience. Take this privilege seriously and let it help you gain engagement and a loyal following.

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