When running a marketing blog during a crisis like COVID-19, your audience expects fresh content on a regular basis that is not tone deaf and that they find useful during this time. Therefore, you must put forth as much effort as possible to be sensitive, mindful, and understanding in whatever you publish.
To help with this, I ask myself these seven important questions as a blog editor:
- Is this blog relevant right now?
All content, blogs included, should offer some type of value to customers, be it a tip, an offer, or useful information. Right now, however, what is relevant to your audience? Is it information about working remotely? Using your products? Insights into marketing during a crisis or disaster? Or is it just about washing your hands? The Macha Blog has “35 Content Ideas for Brands During the Coronavirus Outbreak” that might inspire you.
- Do all the blogs I publish right now have to concern the crisis?
This is a difficult question. While you want to provide useful, relevant information, your audience might also be looking for something to distract them for a while. Some marketers might even be looking for advice or ideas on how to go about their jobs differently in a way that might not be completely tied into the current crisis, and perhaps they could find it on your blog, whether in a new post or its archives.
- What tone should my blog strike?
Sensitivity and empathy act as your guiding lights. Context matters more than ever now. You should endeavor to be helpful, clear, and understanding in all your blogs. Given people might be distracted or overwhelmed, you might have to repeat information to properly convey your point, but so long as you are respectful and sympathetic, this should not pose too large a difficulty. Also, some humor might add levity and brighten up someone’s day. However, humor might not always be appropriate, depending upon how it’s used and the current situation. It’s a judgement call whether or not to use it, and sometimes it might be better to just avoid it.
- What guidelines am I working under?
This question is more for someone who manages a blog for a brand. In general, they will have guidelines the blog might adhere to, and during such a time such as now, there will be more restrictions and rules to pay attention to. Even if it is your own blog, you should consider operating under some restrictions and guidelines you set for yourself. It’s never a bad idea to have someone else check over your work, whether it’s a colleague, peer, or friend. A brand needs to put forth a consistent, collective message when addressing a situation. So, guidelines help, even if you are your own brand. Of course, guidelines can change frequently, but that is more than understandable during a crisis. What is acceptable today might not be tomorrow, and next week might be a whole other story. You and whoever sets your guidelines and is your reviewer or approver are all on the same team, though, and it’s important to be empathetic and sensitive to anyone you work with right now to put the best product you can.
- Do I need to change my blog’s schedule?
If you have a blog that publishes multiple times during a week, you likely have content scheduled in advance. You might even have weeks or months of blogs scheduled to go out. As with many other things, a crisis will throw a wrench into those plans. You might dislike having to ask a contributor if they mind you putting their post back a few weeks or even months. However, you might have to if their blog isn’t relevant to the current situation or doesn’t fall under the guidelines you currently have to work under. You might not have another blog that can replace it, so you then scramble to write one yourself. Still, you have to do what you have to do, even if it can become a logistical nightmare to keep shuffling things around on the schedule. Most of your contributors and people you work with will understand, though.
- Is less more?
Given the guidelines you work under, you might not have a relevant blog to post on certain days. It takes time to produce new ones, so rather than rush the effort, consider that less might be more. Maybe you don’t need to post a blog that day. Maybe you don’t need to post as regularly as you usually do. These are not ordinary times, so a change to your blog publishing schedule might make sense and having fewer posts might make the ones you already have up stand out more.
- How are you managing your own health?
Managing a blog can be stressful during ordinary times, but, as with everything, huge disruptions can add a great amount of stress and anxiety to your job, especially when having to constantly reschedule a blog and producing new content under what can be shifting guidelines. It can all very easily get to you and affect your work performance, which can lead to you not looking everything over as much as it needs. So, how are you taking care of yourself? Are you taking breaks? Exercising? Treating yourself when you need to? Keeping up with your hobbies, friends, and family? Are you working remotely now and not used to it? Do you need advice on how to unwind? Right now, you need to be sensitive and emphatic to yourself as well as your audience and colleagues.
Pause for thought
There are no definitive answers to any of these questions. In fact, the answers depend on a lot of factors, such as yourself, your blog, your industry, your brand, and more. However, these seven questions should give you pause for thought, which is needed for blogging and all content put out during a crisis. As Neil Patel pointed out, this is an ongoing event and many businesses might struggle. We are all working through this together and figuring it out day by day. We just have to do our best under very difficult circumstances.
During these difficult times, marketers can still market, but they need to be sensitive and mindful of the circumstances in which we are all dealing with. Learn some insights that might help:
- Systemic Shocks: Adjusting Your Email Messaging in Times of Disruption
- Disaster and Crisis Messaging Best Practices
- Content Marketing During a Crisis or World Event
- How to Handle a Social Media Crisis