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By Neil Taylor, Founder of Schwa

 

Brands need to tread carefully in their coronavirus comms.

My inbox, probably like yours, is groaning under the weight of emails from business and CEOs about coronavirus. Some of them have important stuff to say – like supermarkets, airlines and banks. Some of them have something genuinely useful to tell me – like the nice people offering me deals on wine. And some of them are baffling: do I remember visiting some karaoke bar in Manchester three years ago? And do I need to hear from them now?

Lots of our clients have been asking us for advice on what to say and how. So here are a few tips:

 

1. Get to the point.

Shut up about your mission and values, and tell me the stuff that matters to me. (If one of your values is ‘compassionate’, I should be able to work that out from how you’re behaving, rather than you having to ram it down my throat.)

 

2. Help readers skim.

Some CEOs seem to think we’re all hanging on their every word. We’re not. So do all the things you’d normally do in good comms: keep it short, and use sub-headings and bullets.

 

3. Sound like a human.

Too often people think serious messages have to sound really formal. So we’re getting lots of ‘in accordance with government guidelines’ and ‘further to the Prime Minister’s announcement’. You’re not writing a health and safety manual; write what you’d say if your audience was sat in front of you. (If you find yourself writing anything on our corona comms bingo card, try again.)

 

4. Talk about the elephant.

People are worried. What happens if they can’t afford their mortgage? They might lose their jobs? Having the guts to acknowledge and answer those questions will get you credit.

 

5. You can raise a smile.

Humour helps us cope (especially if you’re British). If you’re the right sort of brand and it’s the right moment, you don’t have to be all doom and gloom. Just test out anything light-hearted on a few people before you hit ‘post.’

 

6. Actions speak louder than words.

Of course, as a writer, I really care about how businesses communicate. But right now, what you do is much more important than what you say. So get that right before you stress about the message.

 

And if you need a bit of extra help, we’re running free corona comms coaching every Friday at 11.30am. (Check out our LinkedIn page or Twitter for the details.) Come along with something you’re struggling with, and we’ll make sure you’re on the right lines.