RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COVID-19 MESSAGING TO THE WIDER PUBLIC*
*
This assumes you have already prioritized messaging to your clients, staff, volunteers, partners—any audience that needs the most immediate information. 

High level thoughts/suggestions
For the next several days, and likely weeks, your audience will be fielding a stream of coronavirus news, emails, social media posts, and more. Considering that, we recommend that you:

  • Keep your messaging brief. If possible, put your call to action or main takeaway “above the fold” in emails.
  • Use bolding and headers for people who are just “scanning” emails and other messaging.
  • Keep humor and puns to a minimum, and skip all but the most basic emojis (e.g., a red heart is probably fine).
  • Words like “COVID-19,” “coronavirus,” and “pandemic” are at a saturation point right now. Consider giving your audience a break by not including those words in your subject line, and minimize them in your messaging.

Overall, think of this as a time to redefine your organization for your audience. Whether subtly or more dramatically, you are all doing your work differently, so the way you talk about your work is different now, too—as is the way donors, volunteers, and other supporters will engage with you. 

In that sense, your communication should be about telling a new story so that you remain visible and important to your audience in this time. That is all the more important given the volume of information and messaging going out right now, as well as people’s level of distraction. Given those factors, your open rates and social media engagement may decline, so this is a time to stay in front of your audience with more touches—not less.

To that end, here are some rough recommendations for your messaging in the coming weeks:  

1st email(s) and/or social post(s), website post(s)

Sets the context for where your organization sits in this new reality:

  • This is what’s happening for our clients/our work right now: _______.
  • In this new context, these are the new challenges our clients/we are facing: ______.
  • This is how our team is responding and adapting to what the people we serve/our partners are experiencing (virtual client meetings, cancellations/postponements, etc.): _______

We’re doing everything we can, AND:

  • Soft ask, first recognizing the impact supporters have had to date, e.g.: You have helped us build our programs to support so many people, etc. Today you can help us continue responding creatively to new challenges by: _______.

Subsequent emails and messaging:

Build on the first email to continue telling your organization’s story in this new reality. You also want to position the donor as a hero who plays a key role for you in this critical time.

Starter ideas for your subsequent emails, posts, etc.: 

  • Include a quote about how COVID-19 is affecting a client/program participant/partner, and ideally, how you’re still managing to support them through creative means. 
  • Updates on how your wider community has supported you since the last email: donation tally, something creative a volunteer or partner did, etc. 
  • A harder ask/call to action that (ideally) connects to the example.