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  • Writer's pictureSutherlandGold

The Do's & Don'ts Of Communication When It's Not Business As Usual

This is an unprecedented time in history, and in business. Uncertainty and anxiety are spilling into every facet of society. Brands are being asked to look inwards, to examine expenses, to maximize ROI on marketing spend, and to find ways to stay relevant.

They are tasked with how to get creative with finding opportunities to stay or become cash flow positive. For some companies, it’s their time to shine; for others, it’s time to pivot. Whatever the near-term decisions are that you are making, how you communicate them is more important than ever.

Here is our take on some dos and don’ts for staying on brand during this global pandemic.


Exercise good judgment: See the bigger picture and take the current pandemic landscape into account when it comes to advancing announcements and proactive ideas. This means thinking through how your brand can make a positive contribution to its community and the world at large right now. For instance, if you’re doing something that can help ease the symptoms or situations that global citizens are dealing with from social isolation, then make it fact based, and resist the urge to beat your chest around being the ‘first’ or ‘most innovative.’ Let people draw their conclusions from your actions. Do communicate your intention.

  • We love how Zoom announced free video conferencing tools to the education sector. It’s in alignment with the brand and generating positive social impact, helping solve a huge problem and being the best at what they do.

  • Another example is the Peloton CEO announcing free 90 days usage of its exercise classes app to all who wanted to try it. It was a welcome relief to many, and he did it in a very empathetic way on Instagram.

Stay nimble: The situation is changing every day. The story is evolving too. For the first few days, it was overwhelming with anxiousness and insane memes around toilet paper stock-up strategies. Then it was homeschooling stress, with humor. And now we’re into social isolation and how people are coping or not driving each other crazy from spending so much forced time together. Whatever your news is and whether or not it has anything to do with coronavirus, take the extra step to evaluate how it fits into this context.

Keep your customers happy: Staying in touch with your customers, and keeping them informed about how you are adjusting your business during this time is crucial. In general, if you have something to share, doing so is a good idea. Anticipate questions and answer them ahead of time through regular, clear communications. If email is your primary mode, stick to that. Add channels as appropriate, and stick to the most on brand one for you.

Stay true to who you are: Dust off your values, and make decisions based on them. Even when times are tough, and it looks like a recall may result in a short-term financial loss, doing what’s right is more important than doing what’s reactive.


Make reactive decisions: Say you have a CEO who is pushing you to double down on sales and marketing efforts, or to advance a particular promotion, but your gut tells you it might not be the right call? Take the time to consider and present the trade offs neutrally. Providing strong, strategic counsel during this period will safeguard your reputation and prevent you from making moves that are knee jerk, or could backfire in some way.

Rush to action: It’s worth slowing down at the beginning of execution and carefully thinking through the possible ramifications across all audiences. What’s good for your customers could backfire with your shareholders or employees.

News jack: Throwing your company’s story into the current news cycle because it’s opportunistic will backfire with the media. We have seen several journalists complain and call out common pitches they are receiving during this period. Companies that are breaking through the noise are either doing something and demonstrating they are taking action that helps alleviate the crisis, or providing data that tells a unique story.


We hope you found this helpful in some way. If there are any scenarios that are not covered, please don’t hesitate to reach out and we’ll work to provide updated content as this scenario develops.


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