It’s been just over a year since we first entered lockdown.
As time goes on, companies are trying very hard to find ways to keep content and communication fresh and relevant – without telling the same story again and again, or making the pandemic feel like the elephant in the room.
But that doesn’t mean ignoring it completely. You’ll want to strike a careful balance between appropriate acknowledgement, sensitivity, and the subject matter you need to discuss at the time.
Here are some of our tips for how to write about coronavirus in 2021:
- Choose your tone of voice carefully
It’s important not to make sweeping generalisations about the events of the past year. You can’t know how much the reader has been affected and you don’t want to cause upset or stress.
Companies need to be particularly cautious about making bold statements or making assumptions to strike the right note. Titling your blog post, ‘An uncertain B2B landscape during a disastrous time’, for example, is unnecessarily overdramatic and could cause offense. And going too far the other way is also a mistake. Starting your article with something jokey and overly optimistic like ‘while, we’ve all been lounging around in our PJs’, is guaranteed to alienate part of your audience and could be seen as insensitive. It’s not a fair or accurate reflection of everyone’s recent experience. Things are still extremely hard for some businesses, while others are starting to revive (or have even thrived through lockdown). Stay positive, but don’t play down the seriousness of the situation.
- Pay attention to structure and urgency
We’re no longer in the same stage of urgency we were before, so avoid creating unnecessary intensity in your writing, especially around subject matter that isn’t pressing or dramatic. Take a look at this paragraph here: ‘Remote working is at a critical stage. Staff are now facing unprecedented challenges every day. Many will need to be better equipped to help them pull through the coming months.’
Short, sharp sentences can create tension in your writing, particularly when paired with strong wording. The use of language and momentum in the sentence structure is over-the-top in relation to the subject matter and echoes more serious discussions from the past year. Be considerate about how urgent what you’re describing actually is and where possible offer reassurance. Right now, things are starting to look up, so people won’t appreciate unnecessary doom and gloom.
- Always consider relevance
Try to only mention coronavirus when it’s appropriate and don’t overexplain things. For example, rather than saying: ‘Because of lockdown restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are now working from home.’ Instead, try something simpler like: ‘Because many of us are now working from home…’
Readers are well aware and don’t always want reminding. If it has to be mentioned, introduce it in a clear way that avoids repeating phrases like ‘because of the pandemic’, ‘due to Coronavirus’, ‘lockdown has caused’, ‘restrictions mean that’, throughout your piece.
- Avoid using empty assertions
Avoid empty and emotive phrases along the lines of ‘because right now, we care’, ‘we understand’ or ‘now more than ever, we need…’. This can appear like taking advantage of current events in order to strengthen your own messaging or sales potential. Most readers will see through this immediately and be turned off.
If possible, use a specific example of what you’re doing to help and try to be realistic about what you’re offering.
- Don’t use clichés and overused phrases
Certain words or phrases have taken on new meanings in the last year. Steer away from some of the more tired ones as readers are starting to find them grating.
Some examples include: ‘the new normal’, ‘unprecedented’, ‘the ongoing situation’, ‘in these uncertain times…’, ‘flattening the curve’, ‘a great leveller’, and ‘we’re all in this together’.
Getting the tone and messaging for your content right can be challenging, and it may be time to tap into our experience and expertise. If you’d like to speak to someone about how to best position your marketing content, please get in touch.