Insight, advice, news and chit chat

Zipper, virus and mask

Marketing and content on hot topics and "the news" - how to do it sensitively

I don’t like negative stuff generally, and news can stress me out and make me feel helpless. So, I tell myself “it’s not serving me to be so informed – so I should avoid the news!” And this is especially true when it comes to the latest crisis. It’s getting to me and I don’t like it!

However, it’s International Women’s Day today, I decided to dig deep for this post. In addition, while working with my clients I do remind them that a business can create or share content “related to the news”. Content can be articles, videos, images, stats, diagrams, white papers, email newsletters etc.

In times of crisis, you may be spending less time talking business to clients, partners, account managers etc but rather to friends and family members who are scared and uncertain. This is where the “one-to-many” factor of using social media can help you connect with more people on a real level.

The biggest risk

Now when it comes to news topics that are sensitive, you may be unsure if you should be mentioning it or not. Perhaps you are worried about saying something wrong and causing a barrage of hate comments from people who disagree with you, or get on your case in some way, accusing you of spreading negativity, fake news, of being oversensitive, being insensitive, old fashioned, uninformed, or a snowflake!

The other side of the coin is that it’s ignored. That’s possible too, but admit it – we’re not that keen on things that “go viral” these days anyway!

Why would you want to join the conversation?

Rather than thinking of it as “insensitively jumping on a trending topic”, consider that, via your business social accounts/blog, that mentioning current events, whether they are natural disasters, political events, or viral epidemics (like the one that prompted this article), you will be writing and sharing stuff from your business about something that people are reading about. So you’ll be talking about what people are interested in.

If you’re thoughtful with news-related content and prepare properly, it can be done sensitively, positively and with value for your audience. Do it right, you’ll score so many brownie points. The idea is to be objective and positive. And to show heart.

Case Study: @Thumbs1 t-shirt sale for bushfires

Nick – known on Instagram as @thumbs1 (check his feed, he’s amazing and I love the way he writes his captions and involves fans in his artistic progress) – created specific illustration and a t-shirt to raise an impressive amount for charity for animals affected by the Australian bushfires. It was a runaway success and people still ask him if more are available.

No one would dare criticise him of “profiting over disaster” because he donated ALL profits. But he definitely raised his profile – the response was unprecedented. Directly he didn’t make money, but in terms of long term profile raising, this was definitely a winner. By the way, he’s the husband to our very own Elisa!

Tips please!

Ok, so to get right to it, I have created a checklist of 8 tips on how to market, mentioning the hot topics in the news, while being sensitive to people who may be suffering as a result, and NOT fuelling hatred or spreading negativity.

Share the good

If all you’re seeing on the news is bad news, and one good thing pops up – where the information is proactive, actionable and can set people’s minds in a more positive way, then consider favouring those.

So you’re an expert?

Whatever your business is, there will be certain expertise within. An informed view that helps people look at things differently and recommends practical actionable positive behaviour, without selling anything, will reinforce that you have that expertise. If you have relevant knowledge to share, that is definitely a good step forward in your marketing.

Read it fully

If you read something online about a sensitive topic, and you want to share it, wait and read it carefully. Make sure it’s well written, fact-checked, and supports your own views. And add a caption so you put your own opinion/spin on it. If there is something you specifically agree or disagree with, say so!

Does it match with your values?

I have found one of the most valuable exercises we have ever done as a team is to identify our company values. We check them regularly and they still fit! When it comes to either writing or sharing something to do with the news, be sure that it fits with those. Then you know your content is linked to who you are as a business. (By the way, we offered a free “find your values” PDF in our last newsletter.)

Be helpful, not critical or salesy

I also recommend that when sharing online from your business website or social channels you give without expectation of anything in return. Good business content does one or more of these three things:

  1. Shows insight (information gathered from your own experience in business).
  2. Educates (shares your knowledge in a way that helps others)
  3. Entertains (As long as it’s relevant to your brand and not offensive)

Show support for others who are doing good things

When the world seems to be falling apart all around us, and we’re stuck at home waiting for the apocalypse, afraid to go out and give hugs, at least seeing that there are people out there who are helping improve the situation may make people feel less helpless, and hopefully motivate them to do some good things too!

My uncle Paul developed this how-to guide for making your own jersey mask to prevent the spread of germs. Even though he’s never before done a video, he took the time to film this with the intention to help. He isn’t selling them, just sharing his own invention.

Spreading anger – ask if it’s really necessary?

I don’t want to quieten the voices that are brave enough to instigate change. You can go onto your personal channels and rant if you feel the need. However, in the content mix for your business, I would think veeeeerry carefully about sharing negative things. Consider if sharing this helps or hinders the matter, and can you maybe balance it out with something to steer people towards more positive behaviour.

Share feelings and your OWN experience

Writing is a healthy way to organise your muddled mind, and by doing so you can often come up with something useful to add. Drafting is always a good first step. Then read it, and ask yourself: “Am I being objective? Am I being understanding? Am I thinking logically as well as emotionally?” You can even ask for a sanity check (see my offer below). When you’re feeling confident it’s all good, you can publish and share.

Sanity check

Considering I have given this quite a lot of thought, and in the spirit of helping without asking for anything back, I would like to offer my assistance to anyone who wants me to take a look at their proposed topical content. Just send me an email or get in touch via our contact page!

Further reading: my previous “news-related” content

It’s rare for me to pick up on news and write about it on the TLD blog, LinkedIn or other social channels. Only a few times before have I been brave and worked current topics in my own business communications. Below are previous published posts:

Leave a comment

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>