COVID-19: What can we say?

We need to be far more careful than usual in what we say and how we say it.

Like the rest of us, businesses, big and small, have very suddenly found themselves in a whole new world. With restaurants closed, events cancelled, and people staying safe at home will what we’ve always done still convert prospects and engage customers?

Well, it could. But for most businesses, it probably won’t.

So what do we do?

Well, first up, we stop sending all those emails telling our customers about the precautions we’re taking. Everyone and his dog has spammed us with those messages. We don’t want to hear that your staff have been banned from shaking our hands. We feel isolated enough – we don’t need to be reminded yet again.

Then we have a look at our tone, our messaging and our images.

How should we speak?

Our tones should stay casual and uplifting, understanding and kind, simple and human. We should not be celebratory or braggy, excitable or pushy, demanding or aggressive.

Be very careful about jokes and being cheeky or clever. And if it’s about COVID or the economy, don’t even try.

What can we say?

What we can and can’t talk about and say will change from business to business so don’t take this as a definitive list – adjust it to suit your needs. But the biggest rule, regardless of your business, is simple: do not try to capitalise on COVID. We need to survive but we should never take advantage of others to achieve it.

COVID is NOT a “golden opportunity”.

What can we do to help? COVID and what might happen
Connecting our communities online Grow/expand your business
Education, tutorials and tips Holidays, adventures
Working from home, flexible work Parties, concerts, shows
Families and children Politics, the economy, employment (unless you’re hiring)
Mindfulness, relaxing and time out Loans and credit cards
Home organisation, decorating Sports and exercise classes (except those that are online, like kids’ jujitsu which is such a cool thing)
Food and cooking Family reunions and weddings
Pets Health, medicine
Hobbies (that can done at home) Saving for expensive or lavish purchases/treats
Hobbies (that can be done at home) Saving for expensive or lavish purchases/treats
Discounts, free trials Massages, facials (and other wonderful things I miss already)

And what about visuals?

Now’s not the time to inspire wanderlust but we also need to ensure we’re not reminding people of things they’re missing and can’t do every day right now.

Small families or individuals at home Groups of people – say no more than 3 or 4 people
Home cooking and foods (no cappuccino art and steer clear of restaurant quality) Places: Offices, schools, workplaces, shopping centres and supermarkets, hospitals, restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs, hotels, pools, gyms, salons, churches, tourist destinations. Basically, don’t do places.
Pets and kids (at homes) Conferences, plays, concerts, shows and other entertainment
Homes and home offices Masks, gloves, medical things
General objects usually found in the home Sports and adventures
Sunsets and sunrises Cruises, boats, planes, airports
Landscapes for mood Worried, very sad or sick people


I’ve built a quick Word template that you can use to determine what your business or client should and shouldn’t say over the coming weeks and months. It will also help you plan a course of action for existing website and other content you may have running. If you use it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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