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Copywriting during a crisis: 10 best practices

Copywriting during a crisis should let brands become more self-aware and empathetic. Now is the time to build bridges and offer helping hands.

Say it Right Do it Right - Copywriting during a crisis
Now is the time to sharpen the blurs in your copywriting.

With no definite cure in sight, the COVID-19 pandemic is becoming worse than the Great Depression. People are adjusting to the new norms—you should also follow the best ways of copywriting during a crisis.

Your brand’s voice should be connected to the reality of the situation. Nevertheless, every crises lay opportunities. As humans, we would want to stay connected—businesses like you should be no different. 

Good copywriting during a crisis: 10 best practices

Although it may be shameless to plug products now, it’s not a heartless move. If your products can improve the lives of many during this time, you are still helping.

Want to say it right? Here are a couple of dos and don’ts in crisis copywriting. 

1. Create and follow the plan. 

About 90% of the potential crisis you encounter is known. That means you and your team could have anticipated certain problems to happen in the future.

A crisis plan against COVID-19 could buffer any rough spots during your business’ transition.

Copywriting during a crisis -
Good copywriting during a crisis is clear and concise. | Image

A crisis communication plan should include designated spokespersons, template press releases, holding statements, and social media policy. Designating critical personnel such as HR, PR, legal, and marketing teams frees any communication roadblocks you might encounter.

All your teams should be on the same page during a crisis.

Your home team should make important decisions even without the legal team or CEO during lockdown. This is particularly true if they are not within reach or if they are in a different time zone. Your plan should also indicate the roles and responsibilities of your alternates. 

2. Balance sensitivity and authenticity.

You are writing for humans. In these times, people would be supportive of brands with authentic messages but sensitive to their condition.  

This content created by Vettacapsule showcased this practice well.

It effectively laid out the reasons why they need to thrive without sounding ‘salesy’. People will more likely purchase from brands with a ‘humanized’ content than those who are just ‘business as usual’.

3. Be consistent with your posts.

Being quarantined will mean more time staying indoors. Whether to be entertained or connected, people will be highly engaged with their smart devices during these periods. The use of social media or video calling apps connects them with their colleagues, family, and friends.

It’s important to engage with your followers since they will have more time on their hands. If your product or services are unavailable at the moment, you can still create content aligned with your brand’s values.

Facebook’s Instagram and FB page is consistent with their messages—provide relevant topics to keep their audience updated.

4. Be willing to help.

COVID-19 is affecting everyone across the globe in varying ways. Therefore, always think beyond your situation. Be empathetic and compassionate to your readers and step aside from memes for now.

Some of your readers may be caring for an elderly, have lost their jobs, or have contracted the disease themselves. 

As a result, use the right tone in pitching your services or product. While there is nothing wrong with selling, it’s imperative to keep your customer’s state in mind. 

This post from Apple captured this by providing an avenue for artists to showcase their talents in the digital space.

5. Provide practical value.

Start creating content that adds value to your audience. Use engaging topics to keep your audience conversing with your brand.

You can also make the extra effort to provide educational content such as videos, captions, and carousel posts along with your copy. Directing your audience to your bio might come off as too detached and salesy.

6. Value other people’s opinions.

It’s a distressful time. Although you may have strong opinions about this, being deaf to your customers’ comments and feedback could have detrimental effects on your reputation.  

Copywriting during a crisis - Two women listening to each other.
Listening to your customers’ voice is one of the foundations of good copywriting during a crisis.

Some clients may be cranky or sarcastic with their comments about your content. By showing compassion and patience, your brands stay afloat from the negativity.

Save your energy and focus on creating content to help your readers or gain information from your message. 

7. Be home-oriented.

A shift in content strategy addressing social distancing is a good move.

As your brand adjusts to the current needs, start creating content that shows you care for their well-being. UberEats addresses this need by creating a feature that allows their customers to have their food delivered at their doorstep. They are supporting local independent restaurants by offering zero delivery fees as well.  

Golden Corral also did a splendid job in handling birthday celebrations using belated birthday coupons.

View this post on Instagram

A note for our customers celebrating birthdays. 🎂

A post shared by Golden Corral (@goldencorral) on

8. Keep your tone neutral.

Even though conversational tones engage your audience, it’s best to put off using humor and wit for now. Anything you share that is overly informal can be off-putting.

Tone down the playfulness of your brand to avoid getting cold shoulders from your audience. Neutral tones work best to keep your readers glued to your content. 

Case in point: Skype uses a neutral tone to promote its product by pitching its unique features.

9. Use credible COVID-19 sources in your content.

Referencing authoritative health sites will boost your readers’ confidence in what you’re offering.

There’s a lot of fake and inaccurate news circulating about this disease. As a result, you should only share accurate data when you’re writing your social media caption.

Always write with the reader in mind and how you can help alleviate their problem. It could be an educational material or product that could alleviate some problems they are having.

As an added plus, your content stays relevant for a long time. Consider that COVID-19 is not just a trending topic. Canva’s Coronavirus Consciousness Assortment templates are derived from top health authority sites such as the World Health Organization.

Canva is doing a good job of providing templates for COVID-19 content.

10. Selling anything ‘urgent’ will not work.

Scarcity-driven copies will not likely work during this time. Aside from it being improper, it’s a direct conflict of your reader’s current state.

You can avoid this and implement good copywriting during a crisis by showing empathy. This post from Citibank focuses its marketing message on helping kids get meals during this crisis.

This post from Manulife also positioned their brand for the welfare of their insurance holders for the COVID-19 outbreak.

Final thoughts

In times of crisis, people are feeling fear and confusion. You don’t always have to feel the same, but be human enough to recognize they are valid for feeling that way.

Incorporate this into your copywriting and you will gain the trust of your customers.

Need help in copywriting?


By Tricia Hingpit

conversion copywriter & UX writer from Davao City, Philippines.

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