April 17, 2020

How To Perfect Your Tone Amidst The COVID-19 Crisis

“Strategy means knowing when to stay silent just as much as it means knowing what to post and when.” – Kristen Ruby

Amidst the recent COVID-19 pandemic, this quote is more relevant now than ever. Brands and marketers may be finding themselves hesitant and unsure whether marketing during this time is appropriate. With many industries facing mounting challenges to stay in operation with the necessary measures of social distancing and isolation, along with a decline in imports potentially creating supply shortages, marketing is not only appropriate, but absolutely necessary.

With traditional above-the-line marketing such as events, tradeshows and print being limited, digital marketing is the natural answer which many brands are turning to in an effort to stay top-of-mind, increase engagement with their customers, and continue to generate leads. While the usage of digital marketing is paramount in these goals, the approach and method need to be both strategically informed and executed with empathy.

With this in mind, we have compiled some guidelines on how to create effective, ethical content that is conveyed in an appropriate tone that still resonates with your brand.

  • If you mention the pandemic, only provide positive tips on how clients may keep themselves safe, positive up-to-date news or messages of hope. Ensure that all information you share is factual and in line with global safety guidelines. Do not under any circumstances, use the pandemic as a tool to sell your services, (hand sanitizer, deliveries etc) as this is unethical and tactless.
  • The public is nervous and scared, so it is important, even when not mentioning or specifically referring to the pandemic, not to use panic-inducing market tactics or calls to action such as “limited time only”, “don’t miss out” etc during this time. This is particularly important if your products happen to be pertinent to the pandemic (such as hand sanitizer or masks). It is also equally important that your tone and word choice within your content is not negative, pessimistic or fear-mongering, (for example, don’t start a post with something along the lines of: During these dark times or In order to survive we must etc).
  • Conversely, while a brand must not be pessimistic, it must also not make light of the situation or come across as sarcastic, mocking or inappropriately cheerful. Once again this is especially important when referring to the pandemic but also applies when not referring to it, as cheerful marketing with seemingly no awareness to what is going on in the world, shows both ignorance and a lack of empathy.
  • With social distancing and more people working from home, the public are looking for entertainment, a feeling of community, ways to connect and new activities to do at home. Let this inform your content; keeping a respectful tone doesn’t mean that you can’t provide entertaining or interactive content. By doing this, you are providing a useful service as well as boosting your brand awareness.
  • Stay up to date with new developments and update your content accordingly. What is appropriate to post today, may not be tomorrow or next week. Don’t schedule posts ahead of time and forget about them. Check each post before it goes out and if you are unsure that your tone is appropriate, err on the side of caution.


The key factor to remember in all of this, is that your audience doesn’t begrudge your business the marketing that helps support your business, they just expect that you show consideration for them and their loved ones when you do.

Partner with Black Snow, the experts in brand communication who can assist with reputation management and brand protection during times of crisis. We know how to communicate your message in an appropriate tone that speaks to your audience in the right way.

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