How to avoid off-key content during the Covid19 crisis

work home coronavirus

As the coronavirus crisis unfolds, people need a trustworthy and productive content that can help the communities navigate the challenging times. More content is always welcome but in these sensitive times one should ask “How to avoid content that sounds off key”.


This unfortunate topic was discussed in a previous post and we have received a large number of feedback. We appreciate the size and quality of the feedback and were touched by the number of readers who asked us to treat the topic further. They specifically asked “How to avoid off key content”.


First, we should focus on the idea that the crisis will eventually pass. In the meantime brand messaging will most certainly cruise on unchartered waters. Second we see all around us how companies of all sizes have trusted their employees to work remotely. Community support has been exemplary.  I also want to acknowledge how crazy the last 3 months may have been for your business as I have heard of countless tragic stories of disruption and job loss.

We are going through uncertain times.  Each one of us must look after his  family, his friends and his community. Content writers and marketers are scratching their heads and asking questions about the topics that should be addressed during and post Covid19 crisis. Most are delaying their campaigns altogether. Others are choosing to remain visible and keep the conversation with their communities alive and healthy. Here are a few suggestions on how to make sure your message doesn’t strike the wrong key in the current environment.


Don’t act as though everything is normal

In the next few months no content will sound credible if it does not position the impacts of the Covid19 crisis at some level in the content. This does not mean you should produce content that addresses the crisis exclusively or that you need to stamp your authority on the issue.  You only need to refer to it at some point as a context or vantage point. This will make your content timely and relevant to the user state of mind and avoid off-key content. “Dove Courage is Beautiful” campaign is a landmark exemple of a brand that has masterfully changed its footing and  integrated its brand messaging into the feelings and expectations of its consumers.  “There was a feeling we got that courage is beautiful”, said Alessandro Manfredi, executive vice president of the global Dove brand.  Dove nailed it. Their message perfectly matched  the incredible work done by the healthcare professionals to the core value of the Dove brand. The Dove team realized in early meetings during the crisis that “this communication we have on air is really not relevant anymore,” 


🏡Your audience is totally concentrated on this once in a lifetime crisis and their core mind focus is on the topic of Coronavirus and its devastating consequences. Your clients have health concerns, family worries and financial woes. Talking to them as though everything is normal will be met by silence, dismay and shock.

Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” video shows striking photos of medical professionals with visible marks on their faces from their protective gear — symbolizing the grueling hours that healthcare providers and essential workers are dedicating to their communities during the coronavirus outbreak.


 Feel  your audience 

Audience listening is key to developing content that resonates with your audience, especially in these challenging times. Do not assume that their pre crisis wants and needs remain unchanged. Most likely their preferences and needs are shifting under the weight of the crisis. Gathering those insights can certainly get you a lot closer to producing relevant content and avoiding off-key content. For sure you are seeking content that generates engagement to establish connections and share personalized replies and care. Be prepared to reply and support. The marketers at Dove also crafted a message where they announced that they sent their brand “dove” home to match their customers own confinement.


Be willing to change

You have to face up to the new dynamic and change your messaging. You simply may have to brainstorm for a new set of creative ideas that will sound appropriate and sensitive. If you have content that is ready then rework it to give it a timely perspective and appropriate setting. I realise this is no easy task but in the absence of other choices, you literally have no choice. It’s a lot of effort but it’s worth doing it. If you need support in reworking your content around the topic, you can contact me for guidance.

Furthermore your content needs to be attuned to the stages of the crisis in order to avoid off key content. There are four to five stages to the crisis and each has a time span and guidelines. Each country has its own guidelines and sets the duration of each stage. It is paramount that you adjust your tone to each stage of the crisis so that your message resonates with your audience feelings and aspirations. This will require  both nuance and agility to both shift gears and adjust your messaging.


Deserted cities, Social Distancing, Confinement  Stay at Home, Work from Home, Shelter in Place have become bywords of the new social landscape. 


Keep building the brand

The crisis will inevitably lead to a sense of fatigue. Brands and consumers are hurdled somewhere and are searching for some form of conversation on their digital platforms. You have always taken pride in your loyal following and committed to be with them through the good and the bad. 

Neglecting the brand building during difficult times only builds up future pressure on the brand:  the loyalty links to the consumers are compromised. As a brand its not recommended to hunker down and you  must remain visible with crafted messaging as long the crisis persists. This will bond you further with your customers as you promise better days ahead and provide guidance and support. Do not hesitate to produce relevant content to help build your brand profile and increase your share of voice among your competitors as so many of them will opt to stay silent.



Companies will face a tough battle to get back on their feet, and some may never get that opportunity. Consumers know that sad reality and have compassion for their favorite brands and are ready to show it. Brands that chose to remain silent will find it awkward to communicate again when this is all over and when the crisis has passed. Brand best remain visible, positive and supportive and show resilience. Listen to your audience, avoid off-key content, be realistic and reach out. 

Stay home, stay safe, stay strong. 

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