Tips for writing a COVID-19 response

Have you struggled to start your COVID-19 response communication to clients? It’s completely understandable. We are, after all, in the wake of a global pandemic. It can be difficult to know what to say under such conditions. Judging the right tone can be anxiety-inducing as we are potentially messaging people who are worried with good reason, which feels worrisome and insensitive; even though it’s our human response to want to reach out.

But research shows that people find comfort in brands, particularly the ones they are familiar with, and they want your communication, providing it’s done the right way. Think about the supermarkets’ communications: their tone is caring and reassuring. We like to be kept updated and our feelings of uncertainty acknowledged by them.

Here are some useful pointers about crisis response communications and what can work in a situation like this:

·       Remember that information feels reassuring to us; by imparting any details and changes to service and products, you will come across as responsible, responsive and communicative.

·       Don’t be afraid to express sincere concern. Factual information is good, but it’s ok for your response to be human too, without expressing any dramatic doom and gloom.

·       Although it may be tempting, with funny memes currently flooding social media, do not use humour. Even light heartedness at a time like this will damage your brand and is not worth toying with in the slightest.

·       Thank your customers. Feel free to be as heartfelt as you like. You’re telling them how much you value them, which will sit well.

·       Say you’ll be in touch again soon, to indicate the positive journey, being in it together and that you don’t intend to go anywhere soon.

·       Don’t worry too much about using well-worn phrases. As a writer, I get twitchy about overuse of phrases but there are only so many words in the Thesaurus for ‘difficult time’ and ‘unprecedented’! Use whatever feels comfortable for you and fits with your brand tone of voice.

Honesty is good, even if you are admitting a lack. For instance, I recently emailed my own clients and colleagues to say:

“I feel my COVID-19 response is a little late, four days into social isolation, my apologies for that. And I may be a little slower than usual responding to your requests, but I’ll get there in the end without too much delay. Thank you for your patience and understanding, and thank you for being there in my business/friend/virtual community. I appreciate it, more than I can say.”

Above all it’s ok to be human and to allow that to come through in your words. Your customers, colleagues and associates will respect and remember you for it.