Crisis marketing checklist

Global health crisis, pandemic response, racial violence percolating, political insurrection.

Those were the major national crises we dealt with in 2020 and 2021.

You'd think we would be seasoned by now for scrapping our campaign plans.

But that's what happens in a crisis. Most of us never feel quite prepared.

We all watched in horror as these events unfolded in front of us. And then, we were left to deal with the emotional aftermath – trying to understand WHY and HOW.

Once again, marketers were scrambling to cancel their campaigns and get the right message out for today.

Yes, that pales in comparison to crises unfolding. We all have our little nooks and crannies we fill. Scrambling to respond to crisis is my workday today, like so many others.

Because we've dealt with this too many times to count now, here's a Crisis Marketing Checklist to help you respond quickly and effectively:
  • Email
    • Cancel any emails scheduled for today and tomorrow.
    • Create a task for yourself in your PM system due tomorrow to reassess ongoing campaigns.
  • Automations
    • PAUSE all content/promotional automations.
    • Create a task for yourself in your PM system due in 2 days to reassess and resume.
  • Social Media
    • Pause or Cancel any social media campaigns that might appear tone-deaf.
    • Create a task for yourself in your PM system due tomorrow to reassess and resume.
  • Digital Ads
    • Pause or Cancel any digital ads that might appear tone-deaf.
    • Create a task for yourself due tomorrow to reassess ongoing campaigns.
  • New Messaging
    • Draft new messages for social and email campaigns with the following criteria:
      • Express empathy.
      • Acknowledge the emotional and physical impact of the event.
      • Give something actionable for people to do today (they're looking for it). It can be as simple as suggesting they show up for each other and themselves.

That's it at a glance for.

Of course, the more sophisticated your marketing program, the more you'll want to add to this list.

Coming up with a crisis playbook should probably be next on your list, but baby steps. (Pro tip: Use your responses to the latest crisis as a template to refine).

Just know that it is okay to not know what to do today.

It is okay to pause and reflect to determine what the next best course of action is.

Pausing and reflecting are in rare supply these days.

Practice it for yourself and for us, your audience.

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