Be Extra Astute With Your Content Messaging During the Crisis
Whenever there is a sliver of opportunity, someone will try to capitalize. Now shouldn’t be one of those times.
Yet, soon after things turned ultra-hectic around March 11 when the COVID-19 situation led to the cancelation of pretty much everything, the virus-related sales pitches began. Unfortunately, a few of these pitches were in the multifamily industry.
The tone of the messaging from the offending parties was something like: “Oh no, everything is canceled. Now what? There has never been a better time to utilize our services to get you through these trying times like nothing ever happened.”
Of course, these periodic missteps aren’t limited to multifamily, as social media ads regularly tout a surplus of toilet paper that can be shipped immediately – at a hefty premium, of course. Other companies did the same for hand sanitizer or medical masks. There are countless additional examples of price gouging or opportunistic tactics to capitalize on the situation. Don’t be that person or company.
Now, you’re not going to entirely stop creating content throughout the crisis, and yes, you’re going to have to communicate about the virus in some form to your clients, residents, associates, vendors and anyone else who interacts with or utilizes your organization. But now is the time to be extra astute with your content and messaging. Here are a few things to avoid landing in the opportunistic category.
Avoid playing off the virus to tout your product
First and foremost, unless you have developed the antidote, refrain from linking anything about the virus situation to your product. That’s even if your product can help in these times. You don’t want to appear that you are monetizing the virus in any way, and you’ll probably get called out for it if you do. If you are saying anything at all, it needs to be helpful and inform the broader audience with no advertising component attached—implied or otherwise.
Continue to produce content
Let’s be honest—some non-crisis-related content is actually therapeutic. For instance, sports fans have the benefit of reading about NFL free agency this week and the neutrality of the local weather report instills more joy than usual. Continue to produce content, even if some of it has to be pushed back a few weeks or months. Whether it’s a business-as-usual press release about a property acquisition or a blog about the latest way artificial intelligence can integrate with property management systems, many are taking joy in everyday-type content because it offers them a brief respite. Another solid practice is to produce content that is educational but references overall trends and doesn’t mention your solutions.
Don’t be shy to announce a genuinely free service
This can be a slippery slope, as some companies across the country are offering what appears to be a free service, but it’s actually a thinly veiled sales pitch. On the positive side, an industry software provider is offering properties free access to a resident message center throughout the crisis. Another is offering free self-guided tours and virtual tours to clients for 60 days. These are examples of providing poignant assistance and asking for nothing in return. These providers exhibited a smart approach by posting their respective gestures on social channels that many of their properties follow, but refrained from writing self-serving press releases about the philanthropic gestures. If you’re helping in a genuine way without the hope for backdoor revenue, don’t be shy to post it on pertinent channels.
Granted, your COVID-19 communication will require the same diligence and balance. It’s a sensitive time for all, and many will be eager to pick apart your messaging.
That’s what makes your non-crisis communication almost equally important, and a strong foundation for any content and messaging during these times is to avoid creating the perception that your organization is using the virus for personal gain.