Crisis Copywriting Dos and Don’ts

We seem to be in uncharted waters with so many aspects of life these days, it’s hard to know where to go, what to do and who to trust from one moment to the next.

Advertisers are not immune to this uncertainty, so they are throwing every copywriting strategy up against the wall to see what sticks.

Unfortunately, when people’s livelihoods are involved, it’s easy to let financial concerns get in the way of best copywriting practices. During this crisis I’ve witnessed honest, authentic marketing take a back seat to short cuts, deception and untruths.

So here is a list of Copywriting Dos and Don’ts during this stressful time. Think of it as a compass you can use while navigating through this perfect storm.


Tell your own story
Actually, this is something you should be doing anyway, but now is a perfect time to share your own struggles and what you are doing to conquer them. You could also share an inspiring story from your past, where you faced a challenge head on and overcame it against all odds.

Show empathy
We are all experiencing different types of pain and frustration right now. When you can show your email readers or social media followers that you understand what they are going through and you genuinely care about their well-being, they will remember you later.

Talk about how you’re helping
People need to know what you are doing to help, whether it’s online or in your local community. It shows that you aren’t just complaining about your situation, you are giving back in a measurable way.

Tell them you’re there for them
It’s OK to put an email or social media message out to your community just to tell them you are available if they need you. It’s times like these that we should be leaning on each other and it shows that you are human, not just someone who wants to sell something.

Offer to help (without selling)
If you can give assistance without tying it to an offer, this is the best way to plant the seeds for a powerful ongoing relationship with your prospects. Whatever service you offer, give part or all of it away. The law of reciprocity comes into play here. This doesn’t mean you can’t sell anything; you just have to do it with subtlety.

Give advice
Keep churning out your content. Now more than ever people need to have a sense of normalcy, and if you can be generous with your wisdom many will come back to you later when the storm has passed.


Don’t have pandemic themed offers
I remember after 9/11 seeing offers that for whatever reason had the horrific terror attack being the reason for the offer. It was wrong back then, and it’s wrong now. People are dying. It’s not the time to have a sale.

It’s OK to have a special offer during this time, but don’t give the pandemic as the reason. Even if it’s to “help people during these uncertain times” it still smacks of taking advantage of a tragedy to turn a profit.

Don’t give your political opinions
No one is going to change their mind about whose fault it might be, and this isn’t the time or place to be getting political in your social media posts. All it’s going to do is lose you followers.

Don’t give medical advice
I’m sure you have opinions about the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine or the availability of vaccines or ventilators, but unless you have an MD after your name, you’re better off sticking to your area of expertise. It’s OK to remind people to wash their hands and practice social distancing.

Don’t assume the best or worst
Try to refrain from giving people gloom and doom scenarios or false hope about the pandemic or the economy. Be optimistic and positive, but don’t make any predictions.

The bottom line, if you re-read your email or social media post and you have doubts about it, start over. Show it to a friend, spouse or colleague to get their opinion and tell them to be brutally honest.

I’m here if you’d like me to look at something.

You can book a call with me and I’ll let you know if your messaging is on point.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.