Our clients have a lot on their minds right now.

The business landscape is shifting underfoot, they may be working from home, the kids are probably driving them crazy, and they’re worried about what tomorrow will bring—just like the rest of us. The content they approved three weeks ago might not be top of mind today, which is why we at Yesler are here to help.

That puts us in a unique position during times of crisis.

As marketing experts, it’s our job to proactively identify controversial messaging that our clients might not have the bandwidth to spot during a crisis like the global COVID-19 outbreak. We often have a unique big-picture view of their marketing content under development and in-flight, so it’s up to us to flag content that could seem insensitive or offensive.

Here are a few things we’re looking out for:

Fear-based subject lines. Avoid email subject lines that play on the reader’s fears, regardless of the topic. There’s enough anxiety in the world right now—no need to add more with scare tactics designed to boost your open rate.

Undue sense of urgency. Breathless ALL CAPS text or messaging that emphasizes urgency might not land the way you intend. Avoid language like “LAST CHANCE!” and “DO THESE 5 THINGS NOW!”

Mixed messages. Be on the lookout for messaging that could be misconstrued or offend your target audience. For example, avoid language like “innovation is contagious” or “viral marketing” and words like “isolation” or “immune.”

Untimely humor. It goes without saying that marketers should never make light of a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, but other attempts at humor may fall flat as well. Cute ads, puns, and playful social media posts can come across as tone-deaf and inappropriate to stressed-out audiences.

Inappropriate imagery. Play it safe and stick to brand-approved style and imagery. Take care not to use photos or graphics that could be associated with the current crisis or reflect negatively on a client’s brand. Some things to avoid include:

  • Medical/viral images. Avoid anything that could be associated with pathogens, germs, or sickness.
  • Large gatherings. Reconsider images of people gathering in groups to enjoy events, working closely together, or sharing food.
  • Travel. Steer clear of imagery that flaunts travel, tourism, or leisure. Avoid choosing photos of people or places that have been impacted by the current crisis, such as Italy.

We’ve talked a lot about what to avoid during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is one concept that shouldn’t be kept at arm’s length: empathy. Every piece of content we create should be guided by a sense of compassion and understanding for what our target audience is going through.

Download our QA checklist for that last pass on your content before it goes out the door. And, as always, if you have any questions or just want to talk, we’re here.