For many, the COVID-19 pandemic feels like – and often is – a time of utter helplessness. If you’re not ‘essential’, you’re at home, doing your best to work (if that’s an option) and to keep you and your families healthy. You’re washing your hands – a lot. Businesses and brands, likewise, are suffering from this sense of helplessness. But as with handwashing, there are things you can do to make sure the brand content you’re producing and sharing
with your customers is also hygienic and healthy.

Here, we look at six things you want your content – and your business – to be during the coronavirus crisis, or any crisis, for that matter.

Be online
In this digital age, you mightn’t have thought it possible for people to spend more time online than they already were. But locked down at home, people are spending more time than ever online. If you want to communicate with your customers, you better make sure that’s where you are, too. Some of you will be ahead of the game on this. But for others, this may mean a
big pivot – introducing live-streaming content or upping your e-commerce game, for instance.

Be factual
Your customers are frightened, and they’re being constantly bombarded with heaps of always changing, continuously updating, often misleading and sometimes wrong information. They’re looking for reliable, accurate information that they can count on. If you can, be a source of this information for them. Make sure you have a robust fact-checking process in
place, and when you put out content, check your facts … then check them again.

If you’re drawing from other individuals or organisations, ensure that these are verifiable, credible sources, especially if you’re doing crisis communication. Failure to do so can cause potentially irreparable damage to your brand and cost you customers.

Be helpful
Customers are rethinking how they live and what they need to live that way, and they need help. So, businesses also have to rethink and adjust how they can address those needs, those shifting lifestyles.
Ask yourself the following questions:
 What role does your business play in your customers’ lives, and has that role changed as a result of this pandemic?
 How can your brand continue to be useful to them now and throughout this ordeal?
 Can your product or service help people work remotely? Can it help alleviate a shortage? Teach kids? Enable connection? Promote ongoing mental and physical health? Provide relief?

Once you’ve responded to these queries, your content should centre on these answers, tell your brand’s story as it pertains to these answers, communicate value and deliver benefits.

Also, if the coronavirus is directly impacting your business – and isn’t it? – you need to communicate with your customers about the crisis as it relates to your business. Share the adjustments you’ve made, the precautions you’ve taken and the policies you’ve changed.

Be positive
There’s a lot of bad news out there right now. Don’t underestimate the value of a smile, a laugh, or a little bit of escapism during these tough times. Infuse your content with upbeat messages, optimistic stories, and appropriate humour. Be a high point in your customers’ day.

Be agile
It’s not about pulling out the Post-it Notes. It’s more about recognising that this pandemic is fast-changing, much like technology. What’s useful today may be obsolete or unsuitable tomorrow. The same is true for your content. In this ‘new normal’ of coronavirus life, you need to constantly assess and reassess your messaging (and the touchpoints through which customers are accessing this messaging), including word and image choice, tone, and keywords. Are they still appropriate and accurate in the current context?

For example, sharing a concert-footage video of scores of music lovers moshing may not hit the right note in this era of social distancing.

Be attentive
In a word: listen. As priorities shift and change, listening to your customers’ issues and concerns and paying direct attention to these worries and problems through your content are key to building and retaining their trust.

In other words, be there for your customers during this time, and if they can, they’ll stick with you and likely return the favour when this is all over.