Thoughts on the new normal

Communicating with the world in the time of coronavirus.

It is difficult to remember what normal feels like, just days after my part of the world went into shut down mode. Last week feels like a month ago. Working from home, getting used to new modes of communication (yesterday, for example, colleagues shared photos of their home work spaces and their pets or “assistants”), trying to stay off social media and the news in general – at least during work hours. Making pots of soup. Replacing “going for a coffee” with “emptying the dishwasher.”

And while wondering (and worrying) about co-workers in offices around the world, I’ve also been paying close attention to the communications from other companies, to their messaging, to the changes in their newsletters, alterations in the quality of what they’re saying, their tone, and how they are delivering their content.

Surprisingly, some companies have not changed their messaging at all. (Some companies don’t need to and some produce content that feels even more relevant now.) Others have stepped up (Skift, for example, stands out – though they may be uniquely positioned to shine at times like this), but almost all have made some adjustments to their content. I have also looked at the notes from retail and DTC companies, and have been generally impressed by the tone and content of most of them. There has also been much solidarity with restaurants and cafes and their workers (where these establishments have been forced to shut down); indeed, the letters posted on social media from chefs and restaurant owners have been among the most heartfelt I’ve read.

There is no point in sugar coating what the world is going through. And the best outreach in difficult times is clear, concise, informative, empathetic, transparent… and potentially hopeful. And the hope is the other thing I’m looking for; in that hope is the (eventual) light at the end of the tunnel. (No one can predict the future, of course, but that’s what people do, and have done since we started telling stories.) We are already starting to see think pieces of what the economy might look like when the virus has run its course and we start to achieve some kind of normalcy. It is at that time, and the lead up to it, where content marketing companies (among others) will need to not just ramp up but lead. Content is going to be a piece of the puzzle that will help us return to a world where people go about their daily lives, doing normal things. Like going out for a coffee.

Until then, wash your hands.

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