Content lives in so many different places and is so dependent on company and industry, so just know that this post is for the CONTENT teams out there!
Whether it is digital or traditional, ALL CONTENT NEEDS TO BE REVIEWED once a crisis breaks. This does not mean just scheduled content, but also content that has been posted recently. What if the crisis is about one of your products and last week you posted about what an incredible product it is? What if it’s a healthcare crisis encouraging elderly to stay away from hospitals, unless it’s an emergency, and your last blog post is on why it’s important for elderly patients to go to the hospital if something is bothering them? REVIEW, DELETE, REWRITE, REPOST. It’s the RDRR, or whatever you want to call it, of content crisis management.
My rule of thumb to clients is to keep track of every single project on a Google sheet, or within a project software system. When a crisis happens, take a hard look at that sheet and pause all content ready to be released from that day forward. You do not want to risk a DirectTV ad going live while you are busy going through all of the things before that ad on the spreadsheet to see if they are safe. It’s best to pause everything until the entire spreadsheet has been reviewed, by multiple people.
A question that comes up a lot during content and crisis management is whether or not a brand should create content re: the crisis. I would always, ALWAYS err on the side of “NO” if you are unsure. If it’s a maybe, ask yourself if the content you would be creating would add value to those affected by the crisis? This is the single most important question to ask because if you answer “no”, you need to shut up. Like, seriously shut up. You have no place in the conversation around the crisis, especially creating new content. If you create content anyways, you will most likely look like a tone-deaf brand, or, what I like to call, an ambulance chaser. Don’t be an ambulance chaser. The best way to show your respect to the crisis is to pause content and be a little less quiet as a brand as the crisis plays itself out.
If the crisis plays directly within your company, then, of course, create new content! Create campaigns! Write new hashtags! This would be like the American Red Cross creating new content around Hurricane Maria with updated shelter locations, or a hospital system creating new content to help patients navigate coronavirus. It’s helpful info that people NEED at that specific time during that specific crisis.
Which brings us to the strange case of coronavirus. This virus has internal comms and content ALL OVER the place because it is affecting everybody. Many companies have to reach out and create statements during this time because the general public wants to know what they are doing to keep their company safe, and there is interest in how the company is protecting its own employees. This is a very rare crisis in which it really does touch practically every company. But just keep in mind, if you are not in the healthcare, food, water, or shelter business of the world, is your content you are sharing re: the coronavirus truly adding value to a panicked population trying to find resources they need?
I can’t answer that question for you.
– Marji J. Sherman