August 18, 2020
Here are some responsible copywriting guidelines to help your brand survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 is truly a game-changer for everybody. For marketers, it meant a total reworking and unlearning of some age-old strategies and finding something that works in this uncertain time. Aside from products and services, many are banking on the power of content to not only drive business revenue but also connect with their customers and prospects. And what’s one of the most important fuels of content? It’s copy. Therefore, regard for relevant and appropriate copywriting guidelines and tips have also risen.
During the early stages, we have advised brands to keep communication lines open in order to stay ahead with digital during this outbreak. But the situation calls for more than an open line of communication, but responsible messaging as well. After all, it is so easy to shatter intention with bad copy. Especially today, when you’re no longer just attracting customers and converting leads. As a brand, you’re now in a crucial position to provide more value. Here to provide assurance to people living amid an unstable economy.
And how exactly do you do that?
In this article, we’ll be giving you some responsible copywriting guidelines you can follow. But before we jump into the more technical copywriting guidelines, here are some general rule of thumb worth remembering:
(Communicating with your customers through emails? Here’s a crisis communication guide we’ve put together for you.)
Inspired by one unnerving experience with turbulence, customer experience futurist Blake Morgan illustrated just how important it is to communicate directly with customers during a crisis (spoiler alert—the crew on her flight DIDN'T). Here, we look at five ways to do that.
Different places have imposed differing safety measures depending on the number of COVID-19 cases in each locality. While certain restrictions have laxed, it’s imperative to make sure that your brand considers safety above all else—and that you are responsibly reminding customers to do the same. You can do this by using words that reinforce and reiterate safety in your copy.
Here’s a list of words you can use:
“stay indoors / stay home”
Call-to-actions compel customers to complete an action that is favourable for brands. Now, we’re not asking you to drop them altogether, but some common CTAs can be revisited so it works better for you during the time of Coronavirus. Since many effective CTAs are usually time-bound (think: “Limited time only!” or “It’s now or never!”), using these at this time can incite unneeded panic. Now’s not the time to convey urgency to your already distressed consumers. Because today, nothing’s more urgent than the pandemic.
Instead, use CTAs that encourage customers to connect with your brand beyond one-time transactions. Try to use: “Learn More”, “Click this Link to Know More”. Or “See What We’re Doing” or “Find Out How You Can Help”.
The pandemic has harshly impacted people as well as businesses—both big and small. And while it’s super unethical, some brands are exploiting fear in order to sell. Today, brands are walking a tightrope and for the right reasons. After all, it’s so easy to butcher one’s campaign even if their intentions are clean if they’re not careful.
Brands unrelated to health and the medical field are advised to avoid using triggering words so as not to stoke customers’ anxiety. For instance, marketing campaigns could do well without the following words: ‘viral’, ‘outbreak’, ‘infectious’, ‘contagious’, and ‘spread’. When selling or promoting, it’s better to avoid words that’ll make you sound opportunistic (‘profit’ or ‘advantage’).
In the world of marketing today, brands are expected to provide more value than ever. To leave their customers with information that helps. Remember, it’s about how you can enhance customers’ lives. While things may seem somber, take this chance to stay positive without being dismissive of reality. Instead of being casual, aspire to be serious without being too somber. Enough to show that you’re not taking things casually and are serious about being on top of things for your customers.
Be mindful though; while it helps to keep an uplifting attitude, steer clear of ‘toxic positivity’. And finally, don’t overpromise things in an uncertain time as instead of being hopeful, it may backfire when unmet.
Finally, be mindful. Remember that your brand can inspire people’s actions, even before the pandemic struck, but even more so today. However, there is no better time than now to disseminate accurate data and information to people you can reach. Good copywriting is backed by straight facts that don’t hide behind false pretense and inaccurate data. Be extra careful on social media, where things are easily shareable.
To help minimise inaccuracy in this uncertain time, Canva came up with a “Coronavirus Awareness Collection” which is made up of a bunch of print and social media resources from the World Health Organization. Brands can use these resources for their own use without risking inaccuracy.
Of course, the commandments of powerful copywriting still apply during this time. There’s no bigger message killer than the use of improper grammar. It could undermine your overall messaging and even push people to doubt your claims.
While stability isn’t promised, responsible marketing and copywriting is a must. So, to summarise, here are five things to remember when copywriting for brands in a post-Coronavirus world: consider safety, rewrite CTAs, keep away from insensitive language and lexicon, be inspirational and helpful, and always strive to deliver accurate information.
For more information about the latest updates on Coronavirus, visit World Health Organization’s (WHO) website.
Copyright 2020 Amber Creative Pte Ltd