When your company finally finds a winning formula for your content, it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to deviate from this path too much. However, there are going to be certain situations every now and then that come up and force your brand to undergo some significant changes.
For example, the current COVID-19 pandemic is putting many businesses all across the country into full-on panic mode as they scramble to find ways to optimize their performance during these trying times. By customizing their content, many businesses have found a way to stay relevant in the eyes of their customers, even in the middle of such a large crisis.
This is an ability that every company should have so that the next crisis doesn’t come along and immediately launch your brand into backpedaling mode. To help avoid this, you’ll need to know all about the art of customizing your content during a crisis.
Why a Company Needs to Make Changes During a Crisis
Having the ability to adapt to changing situations at the drop of a dime is absolutely vital for success in any entrepreneurial endeavor. But this is never more evident than when the company or entire industry is in crisis. If you take a quick look at recent history, it is full of companies who no longer exist or are a shell of their former selves simply because they weren’t able to efficiently adapt.
There is no bigger test of your ability to adapt than when your brand gets plunged into a crisis. As soon as you begin to feel the pressure of an ongoing crisis, you immediately need to launch into the four R’s. This stands for refocus, retool, retrench, and rebound. Each of these strategies is vital when responding to a crisis but for the purposes of this article, we are only going to take a closer look at the first two R’s.
The first step, refocus, has to do with the fact that the needs of your customers have likely shifted during times of crisis. Using this coronavirus pandemic as an example, many consumers are now more concerned with their safety and the proper handling of products rather than lightning-fast service or eco-friendly efforts from your company.
Therefore, your business needs to be able to recognize this change in focus and then carefully consider how you can best pivot your current efforts to address the new main concerns of your customers. This might involve switching the information of your impressive delivery speed with a quick blurb about your shipping safety practices as the first thing that people see when they visit your homepage. Or it could take the form of a full-length blog post that explains the main efforts that you are undergoing to help deal with the crisis.
After this step has been completed, it is time to transition into retooling, which focuses on the tools that you have at your disposal and which ones will be of the most importance during this crisis. If the crisis is something like a natural disaster or this coronavirus pandemic that limits your ability to get all employees together in your normal work environment, then this will mean that you will have to rely more on your online communication tools like video conferencing and blog posts.
While these are likely going to be things that you had in place beforehand, they may have been taking a bit of backseat. But during a crisis, you need to be able to look objectively at your available tools and figure out how you can rework your normal operations to utilize your tools or develop new tools to better address the crisis that you are in.
The Importance of Content Customization During a Crisis
Now that you understand the importance of being able to make changes during a crisis, it is time to dive into why one of these changes should be content customization. One of the best ways to explain why this is so important is to use a metaphor.
If you were a stand-up comedian who had written several jokes a few months ago that criticize a specific city and have been successfully using them on stage since then, you would think twice about making those same jokes if something extremely tragic had just happened in that city.
Well, the same logic should also apply to the content that your company publishes. The content that you have been writing and having success with over the last little while is likely going to need some reworking during a crisis.
A specific element that you should be looking for in any content published during a crisis is whether or not the tone is touching on anything sensitive. For example, if a large portion of your customer base belongs to a specific industry that has recently undergone a ton of layoffs, then you will want to avoid publishing anything that uses the viewpoint of “are you too busy at work?” Failing to do this will result in your brand coming off as insensitive or tone-deaf, which can end up having long-lasting damage to your public image.
Create Easy Crisis Management With a Crisis Communication Plan
Rather than trying to come up with customized content on the spot while also working to deal with all of the other aspects of managing a crisis, it is much easier to already have a plan in place. By sitting down and creating a crisis communication plan, it can help to make sure that the people at your company know exactly what to do during a crisis.
A good crisis communication plan will involve several key elements that consist of a social media response, a spokesperson response, proactive damage control measures, and a customer feedback collection and analysis system. All of these aspects will help to ensure that your company is covering all of its bases while in the midst of a crisis. But just knowing what aspects you need in a crisis communication plan is only going to get you so far since you also need to know how to properly create them.
Establish a goal. The first step in creating a crisis communication plan is to sit down and determine exactly what the goal for the plan will be. In most cases, the goal of the plan will be to create an outline for how the company will communicate with the internal and external stakeholders during a crisis that impairs the company’s operations or reputation. By having this purpose explicitly established, it helps to make sure that everything done after this is directly working to meet this goal.
Identify who the stakeholders are. Once you know the plan’s purpose is to establish a system of communicating with internal and external stakeholders, you then need to identify exactly who these stakeholders are. In the vast majority of situations, these stakeholders will consist of some mixture of the customers, employees, investors, and the general public (mainly including social media followers and local residents near company locations). By knowing who you will be talking to, it helps to figure out the best way to get into contact which of them and the type of information they will most likely be looking for.
Figure out who is in charge of crisis communications. You will also want to establish who should be doing the communication in each scenario. For example, communicating with the social media followers and other general public members is something that should likely be done by the marketing team since they are familiar with the platforms and audience. But for communicating with the investors, it is usually best for an executive to take the lead on this since hearing directly from leadership will be important to investors during a time of crisis.
When it comes to communicating with the employees and customers, there is a bit more leeway for how it is handled. This can be handled by the marketing team, HR department, executives, or might even be a collaboration effort involving multiple departments, depending on what each individual company thinks is best.
Brainstorm potential crisis situations. Every crisis is going to be handled differently, which is why it is important to sit down and try to come up with a full list of the potential crisis situations that your company could face. If you base your entire crisis communication plan around the theoretical crisis of a product recall from products that have harmed customers, then your plans on how to customize your content and the other steps to take is not going to apply to something like a natural disaster crisis.
Ask and answer any common questions. When something goes wrong, people are always going to have questions about your company and how you are handling the situation. Rather than trying to answer these questions as they pop up, you should make sure to think of all of them beforehand and craft potential answers for them while you’re not feeling the pressure of being in an actual crisis. This can even allow you to create or update your FAQ page and fill it with information that customers, employees, investors, and the general public will want to know during any type of crisis.
By doing so, you can help to create transparency that will really come in handy during a crisis. In fact, 85 percent of customers are much more likely to stay loyal to a brand after a crisis if the brand has been transparent throughout.
Establish temporary social media management measures. Social media should be a big part of your company even when everything is running smoothly but becomes even more important during a crisis. This is because the vast majority of your customers, employees, and even investors will be fairly active on at least one major social media platform. So by using social media as a main pillar of your crisis communication plan, you can help to put your messages and updates where your audience is already going to be.
But during a crisis, there are certain elements of social media that are going to need to be treated differently. For instance, the monitoring and handling of negative social media interactions mentioning the company should be very carefully monitored during a crisis because the reputation of your business will be a big factor in whether or not people stick by your side during this rough patch. Plus, followers will start demanding answers and updates much faster on the company’s social media accounts during a pandemic. Even during ordinary times, followers now expect responses from the company within only two hours on some social media platforms, which will become even less time during a crisis.
This will require you to make it clear to your team what they will need to do differently regarding social media management during a crisis in order to help control the public image of your business. This will include which platforms they should prioritize, how often they should be posting, the steps for handling negative interactions from followers, and how to customize the content they will post.
6 Companies Who Are Perfecting Crisis Content Customization
This identity management platform is currently experiencing the same pressures as the rest of the companies in this country who are having to deal with the coronavirus crisis. However, Ipsidy has taken this opportunity to pivot their content to be focused on the online threats of employees working from home.
Now that states have implemented stay-at-home orders, the vast majority of employees are having to work from home, which increases the importance of online security for companies. To help provide these corporate users with the information that they currently need during this crisis, the blog posts are addressing relevant topics like online security breaches from remote employees.
This is yet another company who has done a fantastic job of tailoring the content that they share on their blog to address topics surrounding online communication in response to this coronavirus pandemic. Since their target audience is one of the many groups of individuals who have been forced to move to fully digital communications, they have temporarily put a hold on any content dealing with how to live a healthy lifestyle in normal day-to-day living. Instead, Avibra is now focusing on writing content on how their users can live happy and healthy lives while remaining indoors.
Even before this COVID-19 crisis became underway, TABS Analytics was in the midst of building a comprehensive database on online grocery shopping. However, they have now put a spotlight on the changes that are occurring during this pandemic.
By customizing their content to cover regular updates of customer grocery shopping habits during this crisis, it helps other companies better understand how they need to adapt their operations in order to best serve their customers. So this shift in focus has allowed them to ensure that their content is giving their users the most timely and valuable information possible.
Although this natural and healthy snack food company has managed to remain fully on-brand with their content, they have slightly shifted the viewpoint of their recent content to address the stay-at-home orders that people are now under. By providing customers with insights on how they can maintain ketosis while quarantined, SuperFat is making sure that their users are still getting value from their content even while not having the ability to go out and purchase items as frequently as they used to.
Campbell Soup Company
This long-standing company has been around for many different crisis situations since its inception in 1869 and each time they manage to know exactly how to transition their content to fit these tough situations. The latest examples of this is their recent content in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has their content centered around maintaining a sense of community and demonstrating what the company is doing to help out people during this crisis. They have even gone above and beyond blog posts to also make video advertising content to support this slight shift in focus.
Since international travel has essentially come to a standstill during this current coronavirus crisis, companies in the travel industry like Airbnb have lost the vast majority of their business. But instead of folding under the pressure, Airbnb has seized the opportunity to invest more resources into their digital content to try and maintain their online presence even while they are operating with only a small fraction of their normal user base. By shifting to content that focuses on how to enjoy vacation-like experiences from the comfort of your own home, they have managed to remain relevant during this pandemic.
By following these examples and the tips set out in this article, you can better understand not only the importance of customizing your content during a crisis but also how you should go about doing this. So go forth with this information and come out on the other side of any crisis still as strong as ever before.