It is hard to know how to run your business or handle marketing after the storm. As residents in the Houston area, Hurricane Harvey is on our minds and those of our friends, family, and colleagues. It doesn’t have to be this storm that is on your mind, but current events, whether disaster or loss or even great happiness, can sometimes cause touchy situations in marketing. Hopefully, these tips for marketing after the storm can help you step wisely in how you conduct your business after major events.
Email or social media marketing are the quickest way some businesses get themselves in trouble. Sometimes, an ill-time email or social media post can be detrimental. You may have heard about AirBnB’s poorly planned email about vacations planned about water-themed attractions and “floating homes” in the midst of the Harvey devastation. While most would not assume they were poking fun at victims of a tragic situation, it did read as insensitive to the events happening around the country, at the least. Whether you handle your own marketing or have a trusted partner that does this, be sure to double check planned posts or email campaigns when major events strike. Use major events in your message to your audience. If you want to be known as the company most involved in your community, show your involvement and genuine concern for those around you. If you want to be known as a trusted expert for disaster response, point out tips and resources. Continue to keep your mission and overall voice of the business consistent.
I learned a valuable lesson this week in the aftermath of the storm with content and facts. Just because “reliable sources” report certain items, it does not always mean that “news” is true. Be sure to fact check multiple sources to sort out what is helpful information from what might be well-meaning, but false. Rumors and fears are often reported as fact, and it is worth checking not just reliable news sources, but true experts in the field to be sure your understanding is correct.
If your business has always had a voice of compassion, maintain it during tragic events. Be careful to offer helpful, uplifting information when possible. Even if you don’t have any particularly helpful information to offer, well thought out encouraging words are almost always welcome. Remember the sensitivity of those suffering, though. Never post anything that does not ring true to your voice. Compassion can be displayed without going overboard to the point of insincerity. Be true to who you are as a company and help in the ways you can. Be empathetic and sincere. Your audience will appreciate your honesty. If you do mess up, apologize. If you send out an email marketing campaign by mistake that does not seem relevant. Own up to it. Just be true.
Marketing after the storm can seem rough waters to navigate (ahem, so to speak). Hopefully, marketing after the storm is the biggest of your concerns and you are not dealing with flooding or safety concerns. If you are dealing with those other things, remember that people want to help. Don’t be afraid to use your marketing channels to reach out to colleagues and customers in your time of need. Be safe, and be blessed.