What actions can my brand take during a crisis?
In the days after a tragedy, people and businesses alike may have difficulty finding the right words to express themselves. It may be tempting to carry on in your online presence as if nothing has happened. But business as usual often comes off as cold and insensitive in the wake of a crisis. On the other hand, responding to the event can appear as if you're attempting to commercialize the tragedy. So what can your brand do during a crisis?
If you're a hardware company, and there's a hurricane, offer some assistance. This doesn't necessarily mean that you give products away, but you likely employ experts in building and rebuilding efforts. Provide their expertise and experience through video, or even onsite relief work. If it's feasible for you to donate materials, then by all means do.
Important: Don't offer to help because you think it will get you media placement or social media reach. If that's the motivation, you'll likely misstep along the way and the insincerity will show through. Help because a) you can and b) it's the right thing to do.
Other examples of ways a brand can help in a crisis include:
A hotel offering discounted or free rooms to displaced people
A restaurant providing catered food for first responders
Filling and distributing sandbags ahead of a flood
Post resources on social media
Consider the reach your social media team has been working hard to build. It may be regional, national or global. Depending on the event, your audience may be the exact audience that needs help, and you can create a channel to get the right information to them. Posting the number for a hotline for families or retweets/reposts of official information is a great way to magnify the original message and target it at the right people.
Important: Provide context. A series of unquoted retweets doesn't inform your audience that you can be a trusted resource in their time of need. (Hubspot offers a great article about how to retweet correctly)
More Important: Don't be tone deaf. Your usual brand voice may be peppy and enthusiastic (or full of snark), but that voice may need to change when the time comes for helping. Remember, you’re talking to people in moments of pain and panic. Be empathetic in your tone and genuine in your willingness to assist.
Sometimes, the right thing to do is stay silent. In the immediate wake of a terrible national tragedy, no one’s first thought is “what does my favorite apparel brand think?”. Your audience wants to hear from people, from leaders, from institutions with the large-scale capacity to help their communities. By stepping away from social media channels, you can avoid clogging those channels with unnecessary noise. Silence can be a form of showing respect during a crisis. Remember, taking no action is still an action.
Important: If you’ve chosen to be silent but still want to show your solidarity for those suffering, you could change your social media profile avatar or banner image to indicate your support.
As information travels the world faster each day, news of a crisis can spread in seconds. Your scheduled brand outreach should be agile, to ensure it doesn't appear insensitive. An aligned brand strategy can help prepare for this. Want to chat about your strategy?