You know why we are writing this blog. COVID-19. The most used word to describe this global health crisis is one you are familiar with at this point — unprecedented. It’s used over and over because it’s true. This is an unprecedented situation affecting businesses and families in unprecedented ways.
With that being said, as a communications agency, the most prominent question we have received from clients, friends and family is about how businesses (that are able to) can continue forward with their marketing, communications, business development and so on, without appearing tone-deaf to the gravity of this global public health crisis.
There is no one right answer to this question, but here is our take. Cybersecurity and emerging tech are critical infrastructure industries that the world needs in both times of normalcy and especially in crises. Keep up your business operations, but do so with the following in mind:
Publicly Express Your Empathy
Before driving forward with ‘business as usual’ content it is critical to clearly and genuinely communicate your empathy and well wishes to your audiences. Leverage your owned media (website, email, social media, etc.) to share your message. Keep this message visible to audiences without reposting/resending it. For example, on social media you can pin the post to the top of your feed and on your website, you can put up a temporary banner. These tactics give your message longevity without “adding to the noise” which is a significant and justified concern vendors are grappling with.
Lend a Helping Hand
If you can help in any way, do it. Not every industry can lend a relevant helping hand right now, but many emerging tech and cybersecurity companies can. The number of states in the U.S. currently under stay-at-home orders is growing, which means businesses that typically operate out of offices have switched to working from home. As the dust settles from this swift transition these businesses are realizing they have new cybersecurity concerns and needs. This is where your company could step in to help by offering a free, no strings attached trial of your product or service. When communicating this offer with your audience, it is critical to be transparent in your desire to help, so as to avoid seeming opportunistic — a sentiment that will come across as genuine if you sacrifice collecting payment information and other typical business development information fields.
Keep On, Keeping On
For those businesses who feel they have done their due diligence with their public-facing response to the crisis, thoughts turn to “normal” business operations and communications. Know that it is ok to continue with marketing and communications during this time. Share that new hire post. Press send on that exciting award announcement. Publish that partner integration blog. Celebrating the little things is good for team solidarity and for showing your current customers you’re up and running.
Think Things Through from Different POVs
In terms of paid marketing and communications activities, the best way to avoid sounding tone-deaf is — to be blunt — use common sense. Do you have a service that would revolutionize a hospital system’s cybersecurity? Great! Now is not the time to tell them about it. Remove essential services from your campaign’s targeting, segment them out of your email list, do whatever it takes to not inundate a population of people who are working the frontlines, often around the clock, with marketing messages. Set up extra internal content approval checkpoints before you publish any public-facing messages. Your gut opinion about a piece might be that it’s ok, but to someone else on your team, who might be experiencing this situation differently, it might not be.
But What About Criticism?
There is a chance you’ll be criticized by someone. Maybe publicly on a social media post. Maybe privately via email. In these situations, try to objectively assess if the person’s critique is founded or not. They could be experiencing heightened stress and anxiety. Be sincere and craft an apology that shows compassion and thoughtfulness even if you don’t think you’re in the wrong. If for some reason someone is severely critical of your company’s business development activities, you can respectfully remind them that you have a team to pay and they have families to support, and ultimately your activity was in no way intended to offend anyone. Try to keep in mind the possibility that that person might just be having a tough day.
While the world is currently fighting a battle that only fictional novelists and film writers could have fathomed prior to March 2020, it’s still spinning!
Dear LaunchTech Customers,
You’re aware our team is operating in “full-steam ahead” mode from the safety of our individual homes. As usual, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Accounts Team with any questions or project ideas.
If you’re not a current customer but would like to talk through some ideas about what communications and ‘business as usual’ look like for you during this time, we would be happy to arrange a 30-minute phone call (no strings attached) to help you out. You can directly email our Managing Director, Wayne Schepens, here.