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From the Frontlines: When it’s ‘Okay’ to Communicate in a Crisis

This week’s guest post is written by Mandy Bachus, a StackAdapt partner and principal and founder at Flare Creative Group, a boutique strategic communications agency that supports start-up and scaling tech and cybersecurity companies.

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve sailed into uncharted waters, domestically and professionally. We’re navigating a new normal and whether you have experience in PR or not, we’re all managing a message. As marketers, knowing how to finesse the message in these uncertain times is a massive challenge. The real knack comes in managing marketing and communications effectively, tastefully and purposefully.

Rightfully so, COVID-19 coverage is saturating every news cycle across every publication, whether mainstream or industry-based. The world is dealing with unprecedented circumstances and maintaining consistent messaging overall. We’re dusting off business continuity and crisis communications plans, but most stop short of mapping what’s appropriate in a situation like this—let alone how to maintain planned marketing or communications campaigns to keep the pipeline moving.

In industry media, the sentiment is that business news has a place, especially when news cycles level out as we manage our reality. But for many, these uncharted times are confusing, and we want to make sure we get it right.

Here are some basics for pros figuring out where to start:     

Assess your messaging. It goes without saying that any marketing that comes across as tone deaf or unemphatic will miss the mark terribly. Do your homework and appreciate the sentiment circulating within your audience base. Be sensitive to it and embrace it within your core messaging.

Evaluate your products/services and measure the purpose they serve in our current climate. What value do you offer to your audiences in this time of need?

Reposition your value proposition. When you’re managing marketing at a time of crisis, your messaging must offer acknowledgment (of the situation), reassurance (of what you’re doing to help or support) and commitment (to a plan or value offering that helps our societies’ collective goal).

Map your messaging timeline. It’s clear that COVID-19 and its rippling impacts will remain for months to come (or longer). Build a messaging strategy that incorporates all of the above and maps a regular communications cadence. Consistency and connection are key—set your own timeline and messaging gate checks to re-evaluate the plan and adjust accordingly. Also consider tweaking or even narrowing your audience targets for message efficacy.

Leverage new tools. Beyond standard channels like social media and customer communications vehicles, consider digital tools like programmatic to help you maintain your cadence and pinpoint audience targets that you wouldn’t be able to access otherwise. Programmatic introduces an entirely new level of measurement and audience reach that will support you as you manage your long-term plan. It’ll also provide insight to business and operational metrics that’ll be critically important as your employer or clients weather economy shifts. Programmatic is an effective tool to help you manage smart and measurable marketing spend, and increased alignment to broader corporate communications and announcements.

Consult a professional. Most of us are not well versed in handling communications in times of crisis, as marketers focus on positive brand reinforcement messages. More often than not, marketers are promoting, selling and converting, and struggle with messaging—both written and even imagery—when it comes to handling a crisis. So don’t go it alone, there are PR people and creative strategists that can help you keep your brand healthy and customers aware, even in difficult times.

As marketers, we’re fortunate to have a ton of channels available to help us maintain consistent lines of communication (and business) with our audiences. It’s not just ‘okay’ to keep communicating and marketing in times of crisis—it’s critical.

Reach out to your StackAdapt Representative to learn more on how to leverage programmatic and creative across your brand messaging and effectively communicate with your audience in times of crisis.

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