When a news story breaks, many business owners leverage it in content marketing. We might be blogging about workplace bullying in the wake of Priti Patel’s dismissal, or crafting a really engaging meme for International Women’s Day (which is on Sunday, by the way). By and large, this is a good thing. Current content with an immediate appeal offers value for clients – it’s helpful for them to hear a different opinion, and it’s a great opportunity to show that your business takes a humane and inclusive stance on issues like workplace behaviour and equality. It’s good for SEO too – people Googling for the news story may find your content too and hey presto, lots of lovely conversions.
But there is another side to this. To be successful business owners, we also have to be responsible business owners. Some current affairs stories are inappropriate launch pads for content marketing. Coronavirus is one of them.
Only share official information
Covid-19 is the first global epidemic that we have seen in the internet age. Health officials are not only having to battle the virus, but also manage fake coronavirus news being circulated online. As business owners, we can keep more people safe and make life easier for the NHS, WHO and Public Health England (PHE) by only sharing information from official sources. Google is leading the way – search for “coronavirus update” and you’ll find it has a dedicated box with red writing, supplying links to first the NHS website, then the gov.uk website, then the WHO. This has clearly been designed to ensure people find what they need and to halt the spread of wrong information.
Build on trust
When circulating updates about coronavirus to colleagues and clients, it’s important that we follow Google’s example and only share information that clearly comes from trusted sources like the NHS and PHE. This is not a time to rebrand NHS advice in your company colours – the responsible thing is to share it as you have received it, so that your readers will trust it and take the right action. You wouldn’t want your team members to ignore advice because they considered it to be from an unofficial source, when it was actually trustworthy all along.
With the communication tools now available, like smartphones, email and social media, we’ve come to expect our information immediately; many of the online news platforms even offer minute-by-minute updates. The flipside to this is that we receive so many updates that we start to ignore them. I confess, I’ve received so many coronavirus updates from my children’s school that I’ve stopped opening the emails – here’s hoping I don’t miss a vital piece of information through corona-fatigue. However, all those unopened coronavirus emails sitting my inbox tell me something: there is information out there, the people are not abandoned and scientists are monitoring the spread of the disease. As long as the emails arrive, I don’t have to search out my own information and risk falling down a rabbit hole of fake news. If I need a coronavirus update, I can quickly find what I need from a reliable source.
We have a responsibility to our clients and employees, indeed, to anyone who chances upon our online presence. We must share accurate information and keep our opinions on the disease out of the public domain. Doing the responsible thing will never harm our businesses; sharing accurate information could save lives.