Keep a clear head: Marketing Dos and Don’ts following a national tragedy

4 min read by Charles Craik 16 Sep 2022

It’s hard to believe that over a week has passed since the news of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s death. As an agency based just an hour from London, and with our own office in the capital, we’re so near – and yet so far – from the very physical mourning that is taking place. And yet our week, like everyone else’s, has been impacted. Here’s what we’ve learned.

Do: lead like you like to be led

There is unanimous support among our team for the Queen’s leadership style. Regardless of what was happening in the world, her measured, slightly clipped tones, created calm and focus. We’re not comparing her trials to ours, but that feeling of ‘calm in chaos’ is what we aspire to – on that sad day, and always.

Don’t: assume everyone thinks the same

At StrategiQ, openness is celebrated. Yet some things, like Brexit, Covid – and indeed, the death of a monarch – stir up deeply personal responses in all of us. We made it clear that there was no ‘right’ way to feel, and created a channel where people could check in and say what they were thinking without judgement.

Do: rely on your instinct

No-one could fail to notice the eerie silence that befell around the time that the death was announced. What was even weirder was the near-unanimous pausing of comms (ours included), over the weekend that followed. No-one told us to turn off our digital schedules. We had to lean on our own values. A weekend felt right. From Monday onward, it felt acceptable to resume things.

Don’t: rush to be first

From poetry to Paddington: our socials have been full of emotive content. It’s provided comfort to plenty of people, and that’s not to be mocked. But – perhaps some creators were so desperate for Likes that they failed to check that their memes actually made sense. The days of mourning are long. There is plenty of time to show your respect. And to do so with consideration.

Do: think ahead

Some companies announced last Friday that they would pause all client communications during the period of mourning. A brilliant way to show respect – or a case of shooting themselves in the foot? You have to wonder what would happen if they experienced their own crisis over the period, and needed to communicate this to customers. Going back on this message would certainly impact a brand’s reputation.

Don’t: lose sight of your customer

Last Friday, businesses and organisations across the UK were figuring out their response.  For us, the question was not how but should we do anything at all? As always, look at your strategy. What are you trying to achieve? As a creative agency, we’re more than capable of creating a stunning visual animation, or turning the whole of our website black. But that’s not what our clients want, or expect, from us.

We’re a digital agency focused on growth, not a retail outlet selling royal inspired gift experiences. Which leads us to our next point.

Do: be purposeful

Our job is to advise clients that need our help. In good times and in bad. Of course, we got in touch with all our clients in a fast and timely manner to ask – what can we do for you?

Some clients wanted guidance on whether to send particular communications. And we gave them our firm opinion. Like the Queen, we had to be strong, even when our view wasn’t necessarily the popular one.

Our stance was not to virtue-signal, but to offer purposeful advice. Many clients will experience disruption due to the weekend’s cancellation of events and the enforced Bank Holiday. Their job, via our services, is to anticipate what their customers need to know, and to get this out in a timely manner. No Paddington required.

Always – be relevant. Be authentic.

One final point. The clients that didn’t need our help last Friday said, quite clearly:

Thanks, but we’ve got this.

The most successful communications were ones that managed to create timely, authentic messages that managed to cut-through to their customers. National tragedy aside, that’s what it’s all about. Be relevant and authentic, and you will connect with your customers.

If you’d like to find out more about how StrategiQ can help you manage your crisis communications, get in touch.

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