How Context, Compassion and Communication Guide Sensitive Marketing Through Turbulent Times

3 sets of hands all stacked on top of each other

By Winnie Stubbs, PR Executive

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When wars, human rights abuses and climate disasters are dominating our headlines, mastering marketing that isn’t tone deaf is a delicate art. Posting a perfectly styled product shot with a call to action, just as a flood is devastating communities just down the coast or the rights of people in a neighbouring country are being overtly violated, isn’t a good reflection of your values as a socially conscious business.

In a world with a rapidly changing news cycle, especially in which much of that news isn’t necessarily good, it’s essential to keep your marketing strategy nimble. Why? Because your marketing is your mouthpiece to the world. You may have a new product launching, but getting sales isn’t just about telling the world what you’re selling, it’s about telling the world what buying from your brand means about them as a consumer (and person).

The fact is, regardless of what’s going on in the news cycle, society is still formed of humans with desires beyond a harmonious world. We need to eat, we need to clothe our children, and we’re lucky enough to live in a country with multiple options, so while the turbulence of the world as it stands does mean some changes should be made to the marketing strategies of responsible businesses, it doesn’t mean consumer marketing is irrelevant. In fact, quite the opposite. The days of smashing out a schedule a few months in advance and following it by the book may be behind us. If you’re a responsible brand on a mission to make the world a better place, communicate how you’re doing that by all means, but don’t ignore the world around you. The art of socially sensitive marketing involves staying true to your values, knowing when to chime in and when to stay silent, and staying curious. It’s about knowing that what you have to offer the world is of value and trust that your customer base will connect with your brand even more, when you communicate with compassion through turbulent times.


Consider the context

We live in a world of endless communication, and even those who actively avoid the news are aware of the matters of the day. Failing to adapt your marketing plan in the face of globally devastating news can suggest that – regardless of the social impact score of your business – your social goodwill is shortsighted.

With that being said, we maintain that it’s important to stay true to your unique values and expertise as a business. Unless you’re a news resource, presenting as an expert on every political and social issue isn’t a wise strategy either. Responding to global news doesn’t always mean weighing in; sometimes, it means staying quiet. 

Consider the context every time you post: is it worth chiming in? Is it worth staying quiet? Or is it best to use your platform to elevate the voice of someone else?

Marketing through turbulent times requires paying more attention to the world around us and the role our unique business plays, but ultimately – as with all marketing – the action you take should be inspired by your values.


Exercise compassion

As always, make every decision by first reflecting on your values. As a business, does it make sense for you to share thoughts and insights on this topic? If not, perhaps it’s worth pausing posting for a few days, then returning with reference to your silence and a brief note on your commitment to learning and support where you can.

This reflection often isn’t a business decision; it’s a human one. 

Put yourself in the shoes of whoever might be most adversely affected by the current news, and ask yourself how they might respond to what’s being shared. By communicating from a place of compassion, you’ll be connecting with the humans who are feeling that way too. And from an entirely business-focused perspective, if you do choose to post about a social or environmentally contentious topic (with an appropriately well-researched, factually accurate and sensitive post), you might reach a wider audience of socially conscious consumers.


Keep up the communication

Your role as a responsible business owner isn’t to have all the answers; it’s to demonstrate your values by marketing in the same way that you live: with curiosity, empathy and an understanding of what you can bring to the world.

For our six tips on sharing your message, we’d suggest having a read of the August Directors Journal – from our perspective, it’s all about knowing your values and communicating that in the most human way possible.

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