How Associations Pivoted Their Content Strategy During COVID-19
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, associations have been called on to think creatively and act swiftly when it comes to communications strategy. Continuing to provide value to your professional members through the sharing of ideas and resources that they might not receive elsewhere is the number one way for your association to offer comfort amid the chaos.
Whether you are working to provide much-needed resources, education, business advice, alternative event formats, or technology tips and solutions to professionals in your industry, content marketing—and leaning on your content teams—is a critical piece of the puzzle.
Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Associations need to address internal and external issues related to this crisis quickly and with nuance. Even though things may be outside of your control, you will be scrutinized for how you respond (or don’t respond). Content marketing channels, such as blogs and social media, serve as a go-to resource for your community—so make what you share count.
We often think of content marketing as an opportunity to gather leads, promote, and, eventually, sell something, but we forget that it can also be a great way to deal with crises. You can use content to reassure members, prevent or minimize panic around your event(s) and emphasize what is important, all while boosting your association’s reputation.
Here are three ways SmithBucklin clients pivoted their content marketing approaches in light of COVID-19.
Let’s Get Personal
When it comes to healthcare, many associations are opting to share stories from the front lines, especially in situations where information is scarce, “best practices” are not yet identified and there are too many unknowns to offer accurate predictions.
So, what do they turn to? Making content relatable. Even amid all the uncertainty, professional experts want to do what they can to share their stories and help their collective colleagues industrywide.
Take this example from the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions. The author here shares a case study of five healthcare meeting providers and how each is responding to the pandemic. It’s rich in info, and a great way to supply high-quality information during a time of major uncertainty.
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: News Edition
With how fast the news cycle is changing and how much content other outlets—and even member companies—are putting out, it might be hard for some associations to be the main source for members. This is especially tough if and when association experts are busy dealing with their day jobs and do not have time to write up or even to meet to share experiences.
But, you can round up up-to-date news as a go-to, ongoing list of resources for professionals within your association. Two examples of this are detailed below:
Building Trust through Positivity
In many business- and technology-based professions, people (your members included) are likely feeling isolated and might even be hurting financially as a result of the havoc the virus has wreaked. Solving everyone’s problems is not realistic; however, offering a light at the end of the tunnel is something associations can do. As actor/director John Krasinski put it, the world needs “Some Good News.” In addition to providing business resources — like Applied Client Network did with this story offering tips for remote working to its many small business-owning members — associations can be part of spreading good news and be a source of light, where appropriate.
Some ways to do this include:
- Ad-hoc Podcasts – Are your members working from home around-the-clock with more time than normal? Get some experts on the line for a non-COVID-19 discussion that will be a source of escape in listeners’ podcast feeds upon release.
- Custom Zoom Backgrounds – Major brands have recognized an opportunity to offer a fun, free resource to their communities through downloadable background images for popular meeting software Zoom. Why not your association, too? You can even use the download as a way to drive your community to other relevant content.
- Community Streaming – Whether it’s virtual stitch-ups in the craft world, Instagram Live workouts from fitness trainers, or online watch parties within the film industry, everyone is adapting to new ways of consumption. If you can’t host and recap new virtual events, look back on what is available in your archives and share a list of the top content (like ACM SIGGRAPH did). Who knows? You might gain some new die-hard readers, viewers, or subscribers.
Emily Drake is a content and marketing manager at SmithBucklin
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