Every part of life has been radically changed by the coronavirus, including how we work. Businesses across the United States — small and large, local and national — are reeling, trying to determine where they fit into an unimaginable reality. At GET Creative — USA TODAY NETWORK’s in-house creative studio — we believe that companies have an important role to play during the coronavirus. We have seen how experts across industries can help people find the services and information they need in what will likely be the most challenging time in recent memory.

As the pandemic developed, GET Creative began working with numerous clients to develop branded content addressing the coronavirus. Since that time, we have been carefully tracking how readers are responding to different topics. For companies wondering how to get their messaging right during this time, here is what the marketing data tells us so far.

Show what you’re doing to help — both consumers and the community.

As most of us are acutely aware of by now, a simple trip to the grocery store can become a stressful experience as we navigate how to maintain distance, find the items we need, and avoid germs. A large grocery store chain published a story outlining the changes that they were making in stores to create a safer environment for shoppers while keeping the shelves stocked for everyday needs. The story garnered tens of thousands of readers.

During this time, brands can communicate their coronavirus response in a positive, meaningful way, including:

  • New products or services that are more convenient or appropriate for social distancing.
  • Changes in procedure that will help increase customers’ safety.
  • Efforts to support consumers who are in a difficult financial position.
  • Ways that your organization is helping the community, through donations, employment, etc.

Find and use your experts.

Though so much is unknown when it comes to the coronavirus, there is still a lot within our power to learn, control, and understand. And right now, people want to hear from voices they can trust. One healthcare brand published a doctor’s guide to staying safe, which was read by thousands who wanted assurance from a qualified expert. The good news: There are experts within every industry who can provide a valuable perspective. Readers need advice on many things, from maintaining finances during a recession to the best furniture for a home office.

Speak to a specific audience.

Everyone will be going through the coronavirus differently. The ability to weather this storm will depend, in part, on one’s age, location, relationship status, finances, etc. One healthcare provider published a branded content piece aimed at pregnant women, while a senior living community wrote to an audience aged 65+ — both of which found large audiences because the unique concerns of these groups aren’t always addressed in the news.

Don’t ignore the coronavirus.

Though we all want life to return to normal, unfortunately, our lives are mostly consumed by the coronavirus — and brands cannot ignore it. Our data shows that coronavirus content is consumers’ primary interest right now.

At GET Creative, we are always learning, and the most important lesson right now is this: Businesses have important things to say during this pandemic, and their messages of reassurance, guidance, and expertise can genuinely help during this difficult time. By bringing crucial messages to audiences at the right time, it allows businesses to stay connected to customers now and well into the future.

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