Avoiding Tone Deaf Messaging during COVID-19
Much of the world has been stuck at home for at least a few weeks. The timeline of this will vary, but it does look like there is not likely to be a completely carefree world out there for anyone for quite sometime. However, we all have to earn a living and as the Brits say "Keep Calm and Carry On." Business may not be running as usual, but people are still consuming and perhaps you have a product or service worth consumption. How do you message pitches and communications without seeming tone deaf?
The first step is to make sure you acknowledge that things are not normal. We are starting all of our emails out with a personal message expressing our hopes that everyone's family is safe...and sane. Our HQ is in NYC, an epicenter of the virus, so we have been hit particularly hard. Everything from inability to get food to toilet paper has been acute, not to mention the fact that many of us love in shoebox apartments with no outdoor space and elevators that would never allow for social distancing.
After an acknowledgement of the issue, I think it is important to be direct and ask if they are operating "business as usual." Some are, many are not and by asking this you give someone the opportunity to let you know how things are for their workflow. I think depending on the communication you may just want to let them know you wanted to ask this before reaching out to them for press, marketing or other purposes and wait for their response.
However, if you feel incredibly compelled to include your query in the initial email, do so and remind them that you aren't sure if they have the bandwidth or headspace to manage your query. If they do, you would love to hear back from them. Now would also be a great time to connect personally. Phone calls, facetimes, google chats are all great ways to connect.
Social Media Tips
Social media feeds should absolutely acknowledge the crisis. Use this time to hear from your customers. Ask them what kind of content they want to see. Do they want to escape COVID-19 with your social channel? Do they want to hear how your business is coping? How your team is coping? House tours?
If you are looking to collaborate with an influencer right now, kudos to you. They are suffering and can use the income. However, make sure you review their feed and their stories on Instagram or other platforms to make sure that their content is sensitive and not tone deaf.
Personal content that shares your stories and even struggles will resonate with consumers right now.