Content Strategy During a Crisis: 5 Best Practices to Consider

Stop. Take a deep breath. Relax.

As much as a crisis scenario may imply that your content strategy should only encompass speed and quantity, it should not. Just as we are seeing now throughout the dramatically amplified Coronavirus crisis, the role of a content strategist is not to flood already saturated distribution channels with additional information your audience can’t process. Instead, think about how you can cut through the noise with relevant content that matters to your company – and your audience. Need some inspiration? Read on.

1. Strategy First, Marketing Second

While it is fairly common to describe virtually any content activity as content strategy these days, producing content and knowing why content is produced are two different pairs of shoes. A strategy sets a data-driven content master plan that is targeted at the intersection of business needs and audience wants. Content tactics, or content marketing, execute your content strategy. A crisis represents both a challenge as well as an opportunity for your content and there’s a good chance that it will require a change in your strategy to direct tactics. Before you start creating content, confirm or adjust your strategy first.

2. Think Inside Out

See the big picture: Content is not just a word on a page or the picture in a header. Content is the entire, cohesive fabric that makes the underlying technology of your website and its related distribution channels work. When you’re changing the text in a paragraph on your website, writing a blog post, or posting on LinkedIn, chances are that you are impacting your entire content ecosystem.

When publishing content, especially in a crisis situation, think inside out and keep in mind how your CTA impacts your message, how your message impacts all content on a page, how that page impacts its content category, and how the category impacts the website and your distribution channels. Keep your content structure intact and use content synergies not only to maintain a cohesive content ecosystem, but to amplify your acquisition and conversion opportunities.      

3. Storytelling, Audience Edition

Debates rage on whether or not “storytelling” is an actual content strategy practice and I’ll leave that for another post. However, if you view storytelling as an integral part of your content strategy, a crisis scenario may provide you with good reasons to adjust your messaging.

Storytelling forms that are typically described as “strategic storytelling” and “brand storytelling” may have to be dialed down and redirected toward “audience storytelling. A crisis always brings empathetic needs to the top and shifts the overlap between business needs and audience wants completely towards audience wants. Don’t make storytelling about yourself. Make it about your audience.  

4. Content Structure Matters

Align strategy with content marketing to help your audience process information faster. Structure your content on pages, as well as along your user journey from acquisition to conversion, in a natural way. Key intersections of user interest and conversion opportunities are driven by a clear chronological order of informational, inspirational and transactional content. Enable a user to identify the purpose of content first, explain why the content is relevant second and show what actions should be taken third.    

5. Expect Challenges and Opportunities

The key difference between good content and great content is flexibility. While good content structures may be designed to achieve business goals, great content anticipates change, identifies challenges and opportunities – and changes accordingly. Crisis scenarios rarely bring a change of business needs, but plenty of change in audience wants. Make sure your routine content audit is current and your data collection and analysis is up to date. The more informed you are about the status of your existing content ecosystem and the more you understand its dependencies and its performance, the better you will be able to quickly act on changing requirements and tune your content strategy through a crisis.

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