Critical PR and web channels for effective, altruistic business communications, crisis #etiquette and equipment recommendations
Given these Fraught Times, I’ll get right to the point—which is the central message of this blog and our overall content philosophy for these next number of months: Less is more.
Entrepreneurs and leaders of all organizations will have to carefully navigate the media landscape throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, balancing necessary marketing/communications goals with social responsibility. We call our web content Thinkbait but anyone producing mass media should spend some time in between managing the crisis to think about their own content philosophy.
Questions to consider: Are forms of unsolicited advertising, especially in digital form, unethical during a national emergency? Should we send that second newsletter this month? How will it look if we boost a social media post when the communities being targeted are seeking more essential information?
As the 2020 Content Storm blog suggested, we weren’t optimistic about the media landscape for entrepreneurs and other innovators in 2020 due to the US election campaign (one of the two campaigns, Republican or Democrat, will end up producing the largest digital ad spend ever, meaning fewer opportunities and higher rates for the rest of us). That was before the pandemic… 2020 is not launch year, obviously. For you, it may be the year to build; to redesign your website, start your podcast, write your book, work on a series of blogs or whitepapers to share your institutional knowledge when normal commerce resumes.
In the meantime, public-facing media or social media communications should be tactful and, until states of emergency are lifted by public health authorities, limited to essential information only. For your brand, that may mean leaving non-essential channels dormant, for now.
Take most of your comms private this year, or at least make your content available on an opt-in basis. Along with your crisis communication plan and hub (here’s a quick template to get you started), here are some key channels, tips and pieces of hardware to help you maintain a healthy media presence throughout the crisis.
Your Critical Communications Channels
Website: If investing in a redesigned or e-commerce-friendly website has been in the works, it is a good time to fast-track that project. Rates will be reasonable, interest rates are as low as possible and creators are eager to work remotely.
Newsletters: For non-essential commercial messages, one newsletter per month should be more than enough. Consider that members of your audience may be experiencing various personal crises and email notifications, especially outside of business hours, can be anxiety-provoking.
Media Relations: During a state of emergency, refrain from sending press releases or other communications like social media tags to your local newsrooms unless the subject matter relates to the crisis or truly essential services being offered to the community.
Media Advertising: Choose your placements carefully. Outside of essential services, avoid marketing to the general public during a state of emergency. Your website, organic social media content and newsletters—channels where your audiences have opted in to receiving your messages—should be your preferred marketing channels.
Physical Advertising: It’s an important time to support your local newspaper or preferred magazine, at least in digital form, if you can. With apologies to the printing industry, it’s not a good time to receive flyers on doorsteps or car windshields.
Consider social media #etiquette
Last but certainly not least, the social networks to which we all seem to have developed physical dependencies. Be careful with your hot takes and tone of your content during tense times…
Social Media: If your organic or targeted audience(s) overlap with audiences seeking emergency health or safety information, consider your messaging and frequency carefully. Don’t forget a hashtag is a search parameter: If you use “#COVID19” or “#coronavirus”, you are expected to be adding helpful, informational content to those communities.
So, not this:
If one were to make a list of Canadian institutions that have earned the public’s trust in the #Covid19 crisis, where do you think the Public Health Agency of Canada would place relative to the Globe and Mail and its opinion writers? https://t.co/JKJSvaj6xV— Gerald Butts (@gmbutts) April 8, 2020
Or something like this:
$LULU Lululemon social media activity still going VERY strong and stable through #coronavirus #covid19— Captain Solutions (@captain_sees) April 18, 2020
See the data and breakdowns here: https://t.co/GiHp7yQhda#sociallistening pic.twitter.com/o45UGRWO8O
Broadcasting from home
TNKR Media technical director Fernando Gelso contributed his recommendations for those broadcasting from home.
Microphones: A few options for varying levels of intensity. A simple PC-friendly, USB plug-in mic can produce broadcast-quality audio, like this one or this one by Fifine Technology. The Yeti is also popular for beginners. If you’re a professional broadcaster or getting into serious podcasting, invest in a professional microphone with a shock mount and wind screen, like this kit from Neewer. There’s also the super basic and always dependable Shure SM48s (with old school XLR connections); our mics of choice for on-location podcast tapings because they can be knocked around or literally dropped without fear of damage. For a device that combines a microphone and video, ideal for occasional media broadcasters, the Marantz Turret is a dependable desktop option, and easy on the eyes.
Headsets: Up your Zoom game. Audio matters, even if you are ‘broadcasting’ to a small group of colleagues, clients or loved ones. If you have frequent meetings and are frustrated by thin or otherwise sub-optimal audio quality, try these budget options by Corsair or Logitech. For something more serious, Audio Technica makes well-rated gaming and broadcasting headsets for long-term use; Sennheiser also makes solid over-eat headsets for broadcasting and have popular options for audio-conscious customer service professionals.
Content with purpose
Given the difficult media landscape this year, we’re more convinced than ever that small-batch, utilitarian content is what media consumers are craving, particularly from the leaders of professional services firms and other essential businesses that practice responsible thought leadership.
We’ve been saying it for many years and it is especially true now, but before you publish that Facebook post, send that newsletter or put that press release on the wire, ask: Are we informing? Does this help?
Dan Delmar is the co-founder and managing partner, public relations at TNKR Media.
Listen to a special crisis management edition of Today’s Entrepreneur by FL Montreal with Dan Delmar and Josh Miller, produced remotely by TNKR Media:
Photo: Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum