• Lauren Perna

What I Learned About Communications During a Pandemic

So file this one under, they don't teach this in school: marketing/communications during a pandemic.

In fact, this isn't one of those situations that you can even learn on the job. Since, ya know, these are "unprecedented times." (How rich would you be if you had a dollar for every time you read that phrase somewhere?)

Sure, as a communications or marketing professional you learn about communicating during national disasters, tragedies, economic downturns. But, I think the majority of people found themselves in unchartered territory.

Even the most accomplished business owners have yet to experience a pandemic like this.

As my husband loves to say, "we're flying the plane as we build it." 🙄

Indeed we are. We are learning on the fly. So this post falls under the category of "Lauren's Lessons."

Here is what I have learned from running social media and managing digital communications during the COVID-19 pandemic aka coronavirus aka the end of days (just kidding, of course).

  • Pictures need to reflect pandemic guidelines. In other words, make sure everyone in your photos is wearing a mask and following social distancing guidelines. This is most important for businesses. You can do what you want on your personal page, but on a business page, know that people will notice.

  • Be relevant and read the room. By now there's no need to remind people to wash their hands and wear a mask, but it's also not the time to pretend things are pre-pandemic normal. If your state is having a particularly rough week, but you just hit record highs, perhaps hold on the digital fireworks and champagne. You don't need to respond to every single world news update, but just be respectful of what's happening.

  • Check-in with your followers and be empathetic. Everyone is handling the pandemic differently, and it's completely fair to pause on business as usual and just ask folks how they are holding up.

  • Be positive. At the same rate, don't harp on the doom and gloom. People are encouraged by inspirational content, so this is where you can step in as a community leader.

  • Don't schedule too far out, or be prepared to make changes. I think 2020 has proven that anything can happen at the drop of a dime. So this is honestly the only time that you'll hear experts telling you to NOT schedule too far out. Or if you do, just be prepared to change things on the fly.

  • Encourage engagement and contribution. People are craving human connection more than ever, so ramp up the conversation starters and encourage the user-generated content. This is also a great time to go live or host a virtual town hall.

  • Be creative and think of ways to be memorable. Honestly, you have no choice but to be creative. Find unique ways to turn in-person events into digital campaigns. I'm a very creative person and I always have a million ideas, and these past six months have stretched the limits of my little idea-pumping brain. But, I'm a better person for it.

  • Make sure everyone knows the strategy. In many small businesses, oftentimes multiple people have access to a company's digital platforms. Just make sure everyone knows how you're handling things so there are no mixed messages.

These are just a few observations that I've noted over the past six months, but I'm sure in six more months I'll have a whole different set of thoughts.

Anything that you've noticed that I didn't cover? How has your company been handling communicating and marketing during the pandemic?