3 Key Takeaways from COVID-19 Content Analysis

3 Key Takeaways from COVID-19 Content Analysis

We’ve been at it for eight weeks now: quarantining and working from home, but also assessing best practices for effective communications during the pandemic.

Imprint has analyzed marketing communications across five industries: insurance/annuities, banking, investments, healthcare and retirement, supplementing communications unearthed by our friends at Corporate Insight with our own research.

We’ve combed through hundreds of web pages, articles, videos and blog posts. When we took a step back to assess the five industries as a whole, these three common traits emerged.

1. They lead with empathy.

The best communications felt like one human was speaking directly to another. They acknowledged the people on both ends of the line—the senders and the recipients. And they recognized the severity of the issues that many people have been dealing with since February and early March.

That human, relatable tone is something a lot of brands try to deliver, yet few really succeed. Some of our standouts:

  • Chase: Their letter from Thasunda Brown Duckett, CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, gives you a window into exactly who she is “a mother, a daughter, a banking executive.” And it succinctly describes the impact of the pandemic in entirely relatable terms: “COVID-19 has affected every part of my life.
A message from Thasunda Brown Duckett, (Chase)

 

  • State Farm: Their tone is simple and clear: We’re here for you. And their messaging reflects a business strategy grounded in today’s reality: fewer drivers on the road means fewer accidents, which leads to a return of premiums.
We’re Here For You, (State Farm)
Guiding you through turbulent times, (TIAA)

2. They’re credible and competent.

That sounds obvious, but let’s not take competence and credibility for granted. We’ve seen what can happen when they are.

Brands stand out from the rest when they differentiate through experience, insight, effectiveness or other credentials. A few of our favorites:

Insights on COVID-19, (New York Life)
  • Northwell Health: The largest healthcare provider in New York state, Northwell Health is at the epicenter of the current crisis. Some of their most effective communications are straightforward infographics, covering such critical info as how to properly wash your hands; comparing cold, allergy or COVID-19 symptoms; and ways you can prevent the spread of coronavirus. Communications heavy on visuals and short on text can be critical for under-served communities where English is not the primary language or literacy rates aren’t strong.
Coronavirus Digital Resource Center, (Northwell Health)
  • State Street: Like many investment providers, State Street is long on sophisticated thought leadership. They also shine with their perspectives on global business continuity, including summaries of the re-opening of their operations in China and India. And they are striving to take a leadership role to determine the industry’s future as a result of the current crisis.
An essential partner when you need it most, (State Street)

3. They pack an emotional punch.

We’re all feeling more frayed than usual. Throughout our assessments, the best communications touched and inspired us. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

  • New York Life: In the middle of the crisis, New York Life’s Brave of Heart Fund both sticks to its essence as a life insurer and supports healthcare workers and the families they’ll leave behind should they be lost in the fight against the virus.
The Brave of Heart Fund, (New York Life)
  • NYU Langone: On April 3, the NYU Grossman School of Medicine became the first medical school in the nation to graduate their fourth-year medical students early so they could join the ranks of MDs. It’s hard to stop thinking about the pride in the newly minted MDs’ faces seen on the screen capture of their Zoom graduation, and the contrast with a video message from their advisor on the hospital floor in full-body PPE. Their subsequent content connects with true emotion, like the video diary of a woman becoming a new mom during COVID-19 or the challenge of dealing with trauma in children as a result of the pandemic.
Early Graduation at NYU Grossman School of Medicine Sends New Doctors to Join COVID-19 Fight, (NYU Langone)

All of this is to say that yes—content marketing can be a complicated undertaking. But as with many aspects of our lives, this pandemic has forced us to look hard at the essence. To home in on the basics. And after our five-week comb through these industries, we learned the most fundamental ways to deliver effective communications in a crisis are these:

  1. Start from a position of empathy.
  2. Demonstrate your competence.
  3. Connect on an emotional level. 

Want more? If you’d like to see our full industry roundups of coronavirus content, you can click through each below.

Insurance / Annuities

Banking

Investing

Healthcare

Retirement

Finally, even these sectors represent just a sampling of pandemic communications. What other firms do you think exemplify best practices at this time? Please let us know—you can email us at imprint@imprintcontent.com.

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