Content Marketing: What to Do When Disaster Strikes

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Let’s be brutally honest with ourselves. When natural or human-made disaster strikes or when something catastrophic happens that turns the country’s (or world’s) eyes in the direction of the event, your content marketing isn’t the first thing on people’s minds. There are just some things that are more pressing than your most recent article or newsletter. So what do you do when the worst case scenario becomes reality? Here are some suggestions based on our experience and observations. They are not designed to keep you front and center, but to assist you in deciding the best way for your business to help out.

Acknowledge It

A lot of businesses (and individuals) simply don’t know what to say. So they say nothing, even in-house. Not only should you not try to ignore what’s happening in the world around you, actively acknowledge it. We’re not saying you need to host a public forum or organize a panel discussion – though you can announce or sponsor one if appropriate. Sometimes, a few social media posts, a blog or even an editorial can do the trick. But remember. It’s not about you and your business. It’s about the people who are suffering in the wake of a catastrophic event.

What do you say, then? That depends on your industry, business size and spokesperson. You might ask your audience what they are doing to help locally. Then choose a couple of efforts and offer to pitch in. Or issue a press release with a list of local collection sites for donations. Or post social media graphics with emergency phone numbers and websites. Even if the victims can’t access the internet, they might have family or friends who can pass along the information. Whatever you decide to say and do, triple check the details to make sure they are valid. The last thing you want to do is spread false information or support a scam.

Be Human First

We can’t stress this enough. We often see companies and organizations try to continue business as usual, hoping productivity won’t be affected. Or worse, they try to capitalize on catastrophe. We’re not just talking about price gouging. We’re talking about those that claim on social media or through press releases that they are running fundraisers – except they donate, say, one percent or less of the funds raised to the cause. Or they proudly announce they are sending products to victims – useless products – to show “they care,” when the real intention is to get their brand out there. Families can’t use the perfume you’re donating when there’s been a hurricane and their house has been destroyed. This is marketing at its lowest, and the public can see right through it. Stop thinking about revenue and start empathizing.

Content Marketing: What to Do When Disaster StrikesIf you’re not sure what you’re doing or saying is appropriate, don’t be afraid to ask others for their opinions before sending anything out to your audience. Professionals who are not directly involved with marketing or sales can often be useful in providing at least somewhat objective feedback. The most important thing is this: When there’s something bigger than your business going on in the world, use content marketing wisely to become part of the solution.

All Things Writing is a full-service content development and content marketing company on a mission to help clients shine online and in print. Our clients are from the private, government and nonprofit sectors.

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Katherine Gotthardt, CEO

Katherine Gotthardt, M.Ed., writing concentration, has been writing, editing and teaching for more than twenty years. For the past ten years, she has focused on content development and content marketing for small to mid-size businesses, writing and disseminating material that increases client visibility while supporting their brand. Besides being published in dozens of journals, Katherine has authored four books: Poems from the Battlefield, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, Approaching Felonias Park and Weaker Than Water.

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