A lot is happening across the world right now.
We’re into our third year of a global pandemic, Russia has invaded Ukraine, and catastrophic floods are making their way down the east coast of Australia. It’s a challenging time to communicate, especially for businesses beginning to find their feet after two years of lockdowns.
Communicators must adapt, much like we did during the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to put people first. Be more sensitive, empathetic and helpful. This might mean pressing pause on certain campaigns and holding off on self-congratulatory content.
Some campaigns, like those centred on awareness days like International Women’s Day, can’t be put on hold. But time should be taken to stop and evaluate what was planned with a focus on the context and then adaptations made if necessary.
It would pay communicators to pause before any event, launch or content campaign and ask some basic questions to sense check your campaign. As we often say; context is everything and the reputation of your brand is hard fought so ensure you protect it with equal determination and forethought:
- Is the tone appropriate? Is your campaign using humour or gimmicks that, given the circumstances, may no longer be suitable? Remember you can’t control the content next to which your social media posts appear, and people can easily take them out of context.
- Does your imagery need to change? At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, advertisers added disclaimers to images and videos to call out content captured prior to the virus hitting our shores. It was done so it didn't appear businesses were encouraging people to ignore COVID safe behaviours. Review your imagery in the same light and ask yourself how this will land given what people are going through right now.
- What is your call to action? What does your campaign ask people to do? Is it feasible and appropriate for people to complete this task in light of what’s going on?
- Is it true to your company values? Are you sharing this content because it aligns with your company, the work you do, and the values you stand for or are you trying to capitalise on a trend? Be wary of capitalising on trends during conflict and crises, they can backfire badly.
Even after considering these, there’s no guarantee your campaign will be well received. Trust your gut and those around you. Bring some cognitive diversity into your team and your decision making during these times so you stress test different perceptions. Do what is the right thing to do not what is only legally right.
If, for some reason, your campaign does miss the mark, and cops criticism, take ownership and be accountable for your actions. Don’t hesitate to apologise; but make sure the apology is authentic.