Kind of an odd headline, huh? I know—I am well aware that it seemed like a stretch when I started pondering recent current events and their correlation to the topic of content marketing. On the surface (no pun intended, and I have been wiping everything down with Clorox wipes around here, FYI) it might appear that this pandemic and the content marketing practice have nothing in common. However, as I have tried to digest the seemingly constant and ever evolving stream of information that we all have been inundated with, I started to realize something. Ultimately, the overall handling of the Coronavirus is essentially a lesson in what not to do when it comes to content marketing.
The Handling of Coronavirus is a How-To Guide for Bad Content Marketing
Below, you will find a couple of themes I have noticed as it relates to the communication strategy (or lack thereof) and the “Corona Crud” as I have taken to calling it:
- Have you noticed that there doesn’t seem to be anyone actually in charge of the overall messaging? Have you realized that at any given point in time, varied streams of information (as well as misinformation) come at us faster than we can say “Wash Your Hands!”? Indeed, it’s been dizzying to keep up with and hard to essentially figure out what is true and trustworthy (and if it comes from a reputable source) and what is just plain nonsense.
The Lesson: When it comes to content marketing, having too many proverbial scientists handling the petri dish is a recipe for disaster. It is necessary to put one person who is knowledgeable, confident, and focused in charge and discourage involvement from other people who want to interject their own messaging or create alternate information streams. There is too much room for error in this regard.
- Writing for the sake of writing is bad news. And this has definitely been true with regard to Coronavirus. Hearsay and speculation have run rampant; rumors about miracle treatments, secret labs, and even the CDC’s need for men to shave off their beards to prevent the virus from spreading have abounded. News outlets have worked overtime in producing “click bait” articles that provide little new information but attract the attention of anxious readers eager to learn more. At the end of the day, the agencies in charge have struggled to keep up and have even noted that it’s possible that we are facing an “infodemic.”
The Lesson: Producing content for the sake of producing content is a terrible approach. In content marketing, the content that is made public should have a purpose and you have to work to control the spread of information that hurts rather than helps. Admittedly, the WHO and CDC have a big job—they are trying to ensure the public has good information, but they have found themselves unable to control bad content leaking and multiplying from other sources (and some of those sources, frankly speaking, come from the very highest levels of our government).
- Negative associations can hurt your brand. This isn’t so much about Coronavirus as it is about Corona—the beer. There is a lot in a name. And what’s worse than loose associations centered around a name? Ill-timed marketing campaigns that promise “coming ashore soon” at the exact same moment as when the first cases of Coronavirus started popping up on the U.S. Pacific coast. Yes, Corona (the beer) actually released a campaign like this—just recently—for its hard seltzer. The company has tried to reinforce that there is no correlation between their beer and the virus, but bad messaging and misinformation, coupled with consumer fear has the ability to hurt the brand.
The Lesson: Believing that an audience will form logical conclusions without your help, guidance, and reassurance isn’t the best strategy. If something damaging could be associated with your brand—no matter how far-fetched—work to stop the issue proactively and ensure that your own marketing efforts aren’t being used to reinforce an already ridiculous theory or belief. Again, it’s necessary to remain constantly aware of what is being communicated—no matter if it’s coming from you or another source.
A Good Content Strategy Promotes Real Information
At the end of the day, Coronavirus is a serious situation—and people deserve to trust the information that is being published about this virus. The people and agencies who have microphones, global platforms, and Twitter accounts have a responsibility to share truthful and reliable information. There is a great responsibility placed upon the people in charge of a communication strategy to be transparent and knowledgeable about the content they share. The conveying of misinformation or messages that negates expert advice is not only a disservice to the public, it is unethical—and this is true no matter what your content strategy is looking to communicate or promote.
At Grammar Chic, we fully subscribe to the idea of creating content that goes viral (no pun intended). However, that content must be based on facts, clear messaging, and benefit the end user. For more information, contact us today by visiting www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444.
Amanda E. Clark founded Grammar Chic in 2008. She is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and holds degrees in Journalism, Political Science, and English. She launched Grammar Chic after freelancing for several years while simultaneously leading marketing and advertising initiatives for several Fortune 500 companies.