Content and Messaging in Times Of Crisis

Mar 17 2020

by Nancy McNulty

The Southern Coterie blog: "Content and Messaging in Times Of Crisis" by Nancy McNulty (photo: Anne Sophie Photography)
photo Anne Sophie Photography

On the night of March 2, deadly tornadoes swept through Nashville devastating lives in a matter of seconds.  By Thursday of that week, the first coronavirus case was confirmed by Tennessee’s governor. Rightly so, the way in which public relations and social media is conducted is changing drastically.

Messaging Sensitivity

For my company, Forest Home Media, one client’s entire four-state operation was on an annual awards cruise in the Bahamas and a second client was hosting a media/influencer event that week unveiling a new partnership with Martha Stewart.

Immediately, all Facebook scheduled posts were reviewed for any sensitivity issues while all cruise celebration posts were postponed. At the end of the cruise, several groups got off the boat and went to work helping Nashville citizens.  That is the content shared immediately.

Owner/Broker Kel Williams, EXIT Realty Elite – The Gulch Nashville, had a team who immediately returned and began helping with tornado relief.

For the media/influencer event, California Closets Nashville unveiled the new Everyday System designed nationally with Martha Stewart. However, a give-back element was added with donations accepted at the event for the Red Cross and a percentage of any future sales in March were earmarked for tornado recovery efforts.  This was reflected in email blasts, during the event and through event follow-up.

This all sounds so elementary but, spending any time on social media, frivolous posts remained and felt very tone-deaf. But, this was only the beginning…

Crisis Social Media

As our country faces the pandemic of COVID-19, each company and person can play a role. The news outlets are handling the crisis updates and social media channels are monitoring for misinformation.  Take a look at your company or brand and determine any positive energy you can inject into your social media posts. Right now, people are looking for comfort and hope, which you can provide them with your voice and position as a company… it’s reassuring to followers and good PR for you!

For the home industry, we’re focusing on things that can be controlled by the individual like the peace of mind found in an organized and clean home. We did this with California Closets Tennessee on their Instagram stories.  For other clients, we are highlighting ways to safely expend energy and ways to make your environment comforting and healthier while spending quality time with your family.

Consider these elements to weave into your messaging:  

Public Relations Positioning– Carmen Johnston Gardens

Now is NOT the time to back away from public relations.  Smart business owners are evaluating ways to strengthen their company’s operations and positioning themselves for post-crisis business while determining any relevant role they might play in this current situation.  Here’s an intriguing example.

Moments away from launching nationally, garden lifestyle expert Carmen Johnston is redefining her public relations messaging.  Preparing to launch her spring gardening and DIY projects with Alexa and Google videos, we are working alongside Carmen to evaluate her role in this crisis and what positive contribution she can make. Her intriguing, pioneering moment with Alexa and Google will still happen, however, it will be pitched and revealed a bit differently. Check out this demonstration on Nashville’s Talk of the Town.

Carmen Johnston is the first garden lifestyle expert voice enabling her content by creating how-to videos on Alexa and Google Home for gardening, decorating, and plant care. Access by saying “Alexa, launch Carmen Johnston Gardens,” for over 30 videos.

What we know for sure is social distancing and self-isolating is critical, and we are all going to try to fill our time safely and constructively. Carmen is preparing to launch a series of home garden activities for the entire family— activities that can be done to provide stress relief and be a positive use of energy and creative outlet.  In her garden series, she has created content for the next 14 days from ideas to brighten up the home to self–care ideas like hydrating drinks and hand moisturizer. She’s emphasizing health tips beyond washing your hands.  Follow her on Facebook and Instagram for full details.

Find A Role

It is definitely better to give than to receive and one of the ways we will all survive this crisis mentally and emotionally is if we spend our time trying to make the lives of others better.  Today is the day to check in on an elderly neighbor by phone.  Engage your neighborhood Facebook group to determine any needs of folks with existing health issues.  And, in the next few weeks, see how you can bring light.


Nancy McNulty View More Blog Posts from this Author

Cool, new and different is the mantra driving the public relations efforts of our company, Forest Home Media. Based outside Nashville in the historic Forest Home area, as a PR rep, I love working with a variety of home lifestyle companies including the 2014 Nashville HGTV Smart Home builder and served on the PR team for Southern Living Idea House at Fontanel. A long-time Tennessee girl with a communications degree from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, my career began as a newspaper reporter and a state agency spokesman. Connect with me at

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