Trust me. I get it. You really want to be current and relevant and you definitely need to make your numbers. For people in marketing and sales, it’s always a balancing act to be part of the dialogue, and thanks to COVID-19, that balancing act has just gotten a lot harder.
Which is why this post isn't a best practices guide to how to message in this crisis. Partly because there are no shortage of great posts on the subject. Mostly, because this crisis seems to require a more honest discussion about responding to this or any crisis.
The brand you were before the crisis is the brand you are during the crisis
Coming back to that COVID-19 comms plan you're considering. Maybe you’re trying to make the world a better place? Maybe you genuinely want to help people, perhaps even your own employees, feel better that you’re taking action in this crisis? Maybe you just need to close some deals. Honestly it doesn’t matter what YOUR motivations are because your audience is going to form their own judgements.
Allow me to be characteristically blunt - just because the world itself seems to have changed in this instant, it doesn’t mean that the world believes YOUR BRAND has changed.
This is a brutal and deeply unsatisfying truth that most marketers and sales people simply do not want to hear. No matter what your motivations are, or even how sincere you may actually be, your words and deeds in this crisis will be cynically judged through the lens of what you said and did prior to this crisis. So while you may see this as an opportunity to present a better you, the market sees this as just another manifestation of the you they already know.
Everything that your brand has done and been prior to this moment in time, is informing how people are viewing you IN THIS MOMENT IN TIME.
What does all this mean if you’re one of those countless brands that really wants to say something? Does this mean you should sit silently and do nothing, staying out of the dialogue entirely? Maybe, maybe not. But, if your motivations are right and you do want to get into the dialogue, then you must be mindful that this is a new you that you’re trying to project and your audience may not go along with it - no matter how closely you follow the best-practices guidelines. Which is why your COVID-related comms plan must be seen as just one step in the social responsibility journey and not a destination in and of itself.
And, if you happen to be one of those brands who just wants to make some money off of other people’s suffering? Well, good luck with that.
Agree? Disagree? Hey, that’s what the comments are for.