5 Types of Content You Need in a Crisis Like COVID-19

by | Mar 18, 2020 | Content Strategy

With the COVID-19 news cycle being refreshed by the hour, healthcare marketers are rising to the challenge to communicate quickly and accurately with employees, patients and community members — to ensure all bases are covered as news breaks and consumers move from education to action, here are the five types of content your communication plan needs during this unprecedented crisis.

Every screen, inbox and social feed is filled with con­tent and com­mu­ni­ca­tion about the coro­n­avirus cri­sis, with much of the infor­ma­tion com­ing from hos­pi­tals and health­care sys­tems. We’re part­ner­ing with clients to cre­ate con­tent on the symp­toms of the dis­ease, how it’s spread, the organization’s updat­ed poli­cies and oth­er crit­i­cal top­ics weigh­ing on the minds of consumers.

To ensure your con­tent has the great­est impact on employ­ee and patient safe­ty dur­ing a cri­sis, pub­lic health and your health­care brand’s rep­u­ta­tion as a trust­ed resource, here are five types to include in your cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tion plan.

Discoverable Content

Search­es for spe­cif­ic top­ics like COVID-19 spike dur­ing a cri­sis. In fact, Google reports that inter­est in coro­n­avirus grew more than 260% glob­al­ly from the first week of Feb­ru­ary to ear­ly March. Deliv­er­ing time­ly, rel­e­vant and accu­rate con­tent to anx­ious con­sumers is critical—and the first step is under­stand­ing which ques­tions they are ask­ing. For exam­ple, one of the main queries is “How is COVID-19 dif­fer­ent from flu?” and by incor­po­rat­ing these key­words where they make sense in head­lines, meta descrip­tions and body copy, your brand will show up when con­sumers are search­ing for information.

Based on our research, here are some of the more com­mon coro­n­avirus-relat­ed search­es that are rel­e­vant for health­care providers:

Geo­graph­ic Search­es—Users are inter­est­ed in, and often wor­ried about, local results right now. When you are build­ing search terms, add your spe­cif­ic geog­ra­phy to this list so your con­tent shows up for peo­ple who are search­ing for the topic.

News/Updates Search­es—The media is cre­at­ing a demand for updates about COVID-19, and that is reflect­ed in fre­quent search results based on these keywords:

  • Coro­n­avirus update
  • Coro­n­avirus news
  • Coro­n­avirus lat­est news

“Spread”-Focused Search­es—Even more impor­tant than symp­toms right now is infor­ma­tion about how the coro­n­avirus spreads. There is a demand to know how to pre­vent and avoid the spread of the virus. These key­words are dri­ving the major­i­ty of relat­ed traf­fic and should be incor­po­rat­ed into your dig­i­tal content:

  • What caus­es coronavirus?
  • How does coro­n­avirus spread?
  • What to avoid to stop coronavirus

Educational Content

This is the base­line con­tent type for cri­sis con­tent and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and jour­nal­is­tic tenets like the invert­ed pyra­mid are best when con­vey­ing infor­ma­tion on what COVID-19 is, why it is a threat, who is most sus­cep­ti­ble, how it’s spread and where to get updates.

The most effec­tive for­mat for con­vey­ing COVID-focused infor­ma­tion is a ded­i­cat­ed land­ing page with links to resources.

Here are a few examples:

Along with the basics on COVID-19, the page can also fea­ture tips for hand-wash­ing, def­i­n­i­tions of terms like “social dis­tanc­ing” and ideas for suc­cess­ful­ly tran­si­tion­ing to a remote work and school environment.

Also, make sure you’re pro­mot­ing the page and dri­ving traf­fic through your email newslet­ter, social media pages, cus­tom pub­li­ca­tion and oth­er channels.

Authoritative Content

As a pil­lar of the com­mu­ni­ty, your brand’s voice is among the most trusted—and this is espe­cial­ly true dur­ing a cri­sis. The tim­ing, accu­ra­cy and authen­tic­i­ty of your mes­sag­ing will rein­force your brand’s posi­tion as a respect­ed source of health­care information.

Effec­tive cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tion starts at home, and health­care orga­ni­za­tions are fea­tur­ing fel­low asso­ciates to address their team’s fre­quent­ly asked ques­tions. This video series from CHRISTUS Health cov­ers top­ics rang­ing from “Who should be wear­ing masks?” to “Should preg­nant women be work­ing?” and oth­er rel­e­vant issues.

To edu­cate the com­mu­ni­ty on crit­i­cal top­ics and clar­i­fy mis­in­for­ma­tion, fea­ture your sub­ject mat­ter experts as illus­trat­ed by this COVID-19 and Chil­dren video from St. Louis Chil­dren’s Hospital.

With both inter­nal and exter­nal audi­ences, it’s impor­tant to com­mu­ni­cate ear­ly and often to help build trust and ease anxiety—despite not hav­ing all the answers. “Even if you’re still try­ing to under­stand the extent of the prob­lem, be hon­est and open to main­tain cred­i­bil­i­ty,” writes Paul A. Argen­ti in Com­mu­ni­cat­ing Through the Coro­n­avirus Cri­sis (HBR).

Reassuring Content

The top­ics you address and tone of your con­tent can be as impact­ful as the infor­ma­tion itself. By con­sid­er­ing the whole per­son and their needs—physical, emo­tion­al, spiritual—and com­mu­ni­cat­ing clear­ly and with com­pas­sion, you can fur­ther posi­tion your brand as the community’s trust­ed resource for health care.

Use plain lan­guage to talk about the coro­n­avirus, with links to reli­able sources like the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) and World Health Orga­ni­za­tion (WHO).

Also, it’s impor­tant to main­tain a pro­fes­sion­al look and feel to all com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Even when you’re mov­ing fast, it’s impor­tant to adhere to brand stan­dards. There are some free resources online with icons that you can use as you cre­ate con­tent to main­tain a pro­fes­sion­al tone that will be reas­sur­ing to your audi­ence. And be sure to take the time to proof­read your con­tent and review before posting.

Actionable Content

Last­ly, the ques­tion on everyone’s mind when search­ing for infor­ma­tion regard­ing the coro­n­avirus is, “What should I do?” Make sure your con­tent answers this ques­tion with cur­rent guide­lines based on the CDC, WHO and oth­er rep­utable sources.

This page from Novant Health is an excel­lent exam­ple of action­able con­tent with a coro­n­avirus self-assess­ment, direc­tions for access­ing vir­tu­al care, a map of local screen­ing cen­ters and oth­er resources.

Learn More: Watch the COVID-19 Webinar

Get more insights and exam­ples to guide your COVID-19 com­mu­ni­ca­tions plan.


We’re Here to Help

Our team will tai­lor a con­tent strat­e­gy to guide your com­mu­ni­ty dur­ing the crisis.

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