The ship is sinking, and the life rafts are all gone. But you’re still on board.
Every industry will face ups and downs, and, as a writer, you’ll need to navigate the turbulence with professionalism. When crisis strikes, finding a confident voice in harsh times can feel like an impossible task.
Nobody wants to play firefighter tackling heat coming from all sides. Unfortunately, we can’t quite control the unpredictable or perfectly time shifting trends.
Some industries are more crisis-prone than others. Tech, in particular, has a reputation for meltdowns every few years. That goes for finance and crypto as well. I’m sure you can name a few more.
Regardless, when disaster strikes and it all hits the fan, life still goes on.
Blogs will need writing. Social posts will need to go out. Press releases, email campaigns, the list continues. Your job will be a balancing act—an intricate walk between doom-stricken self-awareness and blissful ignorance.
How can you handle a crisis when it hits? What’s the playbook for chaos? You won't find any one-size-fits-all strategies. Even so, a few general approaches can help.
Does it Pay to be Honest?
First off, don’t lie.
Ignoring what’s happening is the perfect way to alienate an audience. But, taking a strategic approach to how you answer questions and present your brand can build some distance from whatever might be happening at the moment.
You’re still having a conversation with your users, customers and community. What goes public will certainly face scrutiny. Assume your audience can see past any smoke-and-mirrors approach you might be dreaming up.
Frank discussions are hard but often necessary.
Take the recent boil-over in the crypto industry and the collapse of FTX, a major cryptocurrency exchange.
On the other side of all the copy and content coming from crypto companies were real people with real financial skin in the game. Nobody wanted to hear soft promises on what might come next. In many ways, there was no appetite for positive sentiment.
The companies that provided tempered yet honest responses did well in building trust with a wounded community. Those with overzealous approaches or a pension for bad-mouthing and blaming did not.
Take a look around the crypto industry today. You’ll see thousands of shuttered startups and protocols. Those still standing know how to navigate volatility with grace.
Finding the Right Tone
Being honest connects to tone. Honesty delivered with the right tone is different from the brutal truth all on its own.
Layoffs suck but mark a moment in a cycle that companies often can’t avoid. How can you deliver a painful message with a bit of compassion? The truth stings even more with a layer of apathy, so select your words carefully.
We’ve seen bad news surrounding how some tech giants handled company layoffs. Others brought compassion to the tone of their messaging and how they cared for former employees.
It’s hard to spin bad news. What you can do is moderate your tone and sprinkle in sincere compassion when possible. A little goes a long way.
Internal Crisis vs. External Crisis
While you might be in the midst of a crisis, where the fire is coming from can change how you approach your work.
An internal crisis can be more difficult to manage. It could be critical missteps, bad predictions or just negligence and stupidity. Whatever it is, you’ve stepped in it and need to cover the smell.
Take Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. The following months displayed a massive internal meltdown within the social media behemoth. The tech sector as a whole felt cuts stemming from hiring surges in 2020 and 2021, but Twitter’s unique situation seemed to come from chaotic internal decision-making.
On the flip side, the whole world might be burning. Markets crash, and when they do, they take down everyone.
How you approach your writing in each situation will be vastly different.
If the industry as a whole is in crisis, focusing on stability and sustainability during volatile times might be a winning approach.
If a crisis is coming from within, a more apologetic tone can help sway wary users. That is, if you intend to rectify the underlying issue. Apologies with no substance can do more damage than good.
Keeping Up With Trends
News can move at lightning-fast speeds during a crisis. Everyone is scanning headlines hoping to judge sentiment and catch the changing tides. You can easily create tone-deaf writing if you don’t stay on top of what’s happening.
Finding the right time to put out content is also critical.
Let’s say you’re writing for a cybersecurity client just days after a major hacking incident. While it might not affect your individual company directly, the general mood toward overly pushy copy might turn sour. Save it for when you expect a more positive response.
We often plan out content months ahead of time, but during a crisis, it’s time to go into manual mode. Tackle each piece individually to respond to industry sentiment.
While timing tends to lean more toward content management, it can also indicate what topics you cover. Putting out relevant and helpful work can help define value during a down cycle and position a brand as a leader during tough times.
Putting It All Together
Companies and brands looking to survive a crisis need to approach content with caution. Cycles are a constant in any industry. While you often can’t control the chaos, you can control your reaction.
Moderating tone, keeping up with news and seeing your users as human can give you an edge during turbulent times.
In the end, experience and intuition are your rewards. If you can survive a crisis and manage to create useful content, you can surely bet that when the good times come back around, you’ll be in a better position to overcome new challenges.
If crisis is at your door, don’t wait to get help. Here at Hire a Writer, our expert writers are ready to help you create content your users will engage with, even during tough times.
With tested tactics and expertise, we can deliver copy that outlasts the industry volatility. Get in touch to learn how we can help.