Content writing is the frontline of consumer-business communication. At normal times, it’s one of your absolute strongest marketing tools. Right now, it’s turned into a lot more. Businesses everywhere are struggling to identify their stance on how to respond in an empathetic and yet hopeful way to the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire world is holding its breath, waiting for what’s around the next corner. That includes your customers, who may be looking to the brands and providers they trust to show that they understand, empathise and are capable of facing and navigating the current situation. Here are the five most important things to think about when writing online content right now, whether it’s for a brief company statement, or a full-scale pivot caused by the economic ripple effects of the virus.

Don’t forget your brand’s identity

Even if you’re pivoting (which some businesses are forced to do right now), it’s likely you want to keep as much of your existing client base as possible. These people have a relationship with you already, and one of your main ways of cultivating that relationship is through your content writing. In order to maintain and continue building trust between your company and its clients, it’s important to stick to your brand voice and identity. This can be a good time to revisit your core values to make sure they stay strong in your communication.

It might help to think of your brand voice as an actual person in order to get this right. When responding to disaster, trauma or crisis, businesses have a tendency to adopt the exact same tonality and near-identical wording in their responses. And although the intention is probably to show respect, this strategy often weakens your brand – and so weakens the consumer’s trust in you, at a time that already feels uncertain to them. A better solution is to step into the shoes of your brand persona, and really examine how the person that is your company would communicate about the COVID-19 pandemic. Even the most cheerful and relaxed of people have a tendency to turn solemn when a given situation calls for it. 

Find the right wording balance

This brings us to the core of content writing – and particularly in the midst of trying times. It can be exceptionally difficult to find the right words that balance recognition and respect with optimism and assurance, even if you’ve got an idea of how your brand persona would behave and feel now. Too much focus on the ever-increasing numbers or depressing reality for many communities across the globe, and people will walk away feeling even less optimistic than they did to begin with. Then again, if you don’t recognise what’s happened in an empathetic manner, the reaction will probably be just as detrimental.

Here are three good questions to go through as a basis for your business’ content strategy in the wake of COVID-19:

  • How are you going to acknowledge the current situation with respect?
  • What can you share about the in-house response to the pandemic? 
  • How can you end on a note of hope and sense of community?

This means that no matter what you’re publishing right now, it should take the form of 1) recognition; 2) honesty; 3) assurance and hopefulness.

The format of the content is essential

Moving on from the sentiments that your content writing should cover during the COVID-19 crisis, it’s also important to keep the format of the material in mind. What is it that you’re sharing? Once you have the foundation (ie, brand voice and core message you’d like to convey) of your communication in place, you need to start thinking about how to position it so that it makes sense. That means structure, format and platform that the writing is going out on.

To put this into context: A business statement on the pandemic is something very different from an explanation surrounding a product or services pivot because of the crisis. An on-site message should take a different form than an Instagram grid text post. A cold sales pitch will address the current situation with other words than a follow-up to existing clients. In essence, all the standard rules of content writing formats apply. They’re just more difficult to tread gracefully right now.

Combining ideal client with your fellow man

Part of this balance is to remember that you’re not just writing for your ideal clients anymore. Right now, your content can afford to let down its guard a little bit. It’s important to once again recognise the relationship you have with your customers, and the fact that what people might need most is recognition of what they’re going through. The person who opens your statement or newsletter might have lost a loved one to COVID-19. They might be terrified of what their financial future holds. They may have been given notice from their employer. Put yourself in their shoes. Be empathetic and stress that your business is here to support and help them any way possible.

Don’t forget to think long-term

Ideally, your plan for content writing should be doing two things simultaneously right now. One, it should be fully in the present. Two, it should point towards the future. There will come a time, down the line, when this will be in the past. Your content writing should be positioned and adjusted for that reality. That means combining short-term with long-term perspective in your content. Discuss your business and its services in the climate right now AND in the climate three, six, twelve months from now. 

People all around the world are looking for uplifting sentiments. One important aspect of that is by choosing topics and wording that clearly illustrates positivity and hope for the future. By combining the unique strengths of your brand voice with a compassionate recognition of what’s going on, your content writing will hold up through the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of this, it will continue to strengthen pre-existing customer relationships, and, positioned right, appeal to the beginning of new ones.

Are you a business struggling financially in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis – but still need advice on content writing and communication strategy? Please send us an email, and we’ll do our best to help you out pro-bono.