The COVID-19 Communications Pandemic Requires Hyper-Personalization

April 14, 2020 Sheryl Kravitz

It’s official. I’ve hit my personal peak in consuming Coronavirus messaging. For the past couple of weeks, it has been a total 24/7 barrage of COVID-19 news, emails from literally every single organization I’ve ever been in contact with, social media posts, pop-up windows and in-your-face landing pages. 
 
At this point, I’ve started to develop digital communications antibodies to it all, which is an interesting mix of click-off, skim past, tune-out, and an instantaneous, visceral, negative reaction to heavy-handed corporate virtue signaling that comes across as self-important spam. And I’m pretty sure I am not alone in my reaction.

There’s only so much I can absorb and, more importantly, care about – particularly when stuck at home trying to work and establish normalcy – when life, as we all know, is not-at-all normal. Even worse is my sense of helplessness in how little I can personally do to change the situation for thousands of others whose life has been turned upside down. The result is that while I still check in to find out what’s going on in the world, the only news, emails, posts and videos that do breakthrough are those that are directly applicable to me or what moves me on a deeply personal level. The rest of it is just noise.
 
Now more than ever, companies and many of the firms we work with should pay close heed to this. More information does not necessarily translate into better, or even relevant, information. During a time of crisis like this, when peoples’ health and financial lives are at stake, it’s all personal.  
 
The firms who lead are more than just digitally enabled; they’re the first to market their message and create rich, relevant communication backed up by meaningful action. One outstanding example that immediately stands out to me is Virgin Group’s response, which was kicked-off with a straight-from-the-heart letter penned by Founder Richard Branson entitled, “My Response to the Global Crisis.” The letter was followed by content illustrating how each of the entire Virgin family of companies is contributing from across the globe. You can practically feel the energy and commitment coming off the screen when you visit virgin.com.  
 
Stand-out firms are the ones that refuse to fall into the trap of simply pushing words. Instead, they marshal their teams and avoid burning up their internal marketing resources. They craft a content strategy equally as personal as it is judicious, and they test it to make sure it's personalized and doesn’t trigger unintended digital antibodies that create negative brand associations or feelings.

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Sheryl Kravitz Director, Brand & Communications

At the time of publishing, Sheryl was Director, Brand & Communications at One North.

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