Content Strategy and Coronavirus: How Companies Can Stay Connected

 

Content marketing has long been championed as a way for businesses and brands to meaningfully connect with their customers and clients.

Of course, few of us could have guessed just how precious connectivity would become in the era of COVID-19.

As more of us hunker down for self-quarantine and social distancing, a feeling of isolation runs rampant; a lot of us feel estranged from our former lives and routines, and distant from any sense of community.

While businesses and brands can’t create that sense of community out of thin air, they can offer their support, deploying content strategy to help customers and clients feel at least a little bit normal and connected.

This in turn can help companies foster a sense of goodwill and brand loyalty, something that could pay off down the road, once we all have coronavirus in the rearview mirror.

But what are some ways in which content strategy can be implemented even amidst COVID-19’s disruptions?

Content Tips for the Middle of a Pandemic

Here’s what we’d recommend.

  • Build consistency. More than ever, your audience craves a sense of the familiar. You can create that for them just by being consistent in your content. That doesn’t mean you have to post constantly, but maybe you can develop some kind of routine… for example, a #ThankfulThursday post to highlight some good news, or a regular Monday greeting from one of your employees, just to say hi and provide a sense of cheer.
  • Promote (and not just your own services). There are a lot of people hurting right now, and a lot of ways in which people can help. Use your content channels to shine a light on charities, non-profits, or other resources that people might find valuable. This is a good and decent thing to do, but it may also have business benefits: You might engender goodwill from your community, and you might help your audience feel connected to you in a sense of common mission.
  • Communicate what’s different (and what’s the same). Of course, your content and social media channels are a good avenue for you to let people know of any disruptions or changes to your normal services. But you can also use them to let people know what’s the same! There’s certainly nothing wrong with telling your followers that you’re still providing products for delivery, that you can serve them online, etc. Plug your business a little bit and show your audience that there is still some normalcy.

Now more than ever, we all feel a need to connect. If you’re looking for ways to connect with your clients and customers, reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. We’d love to help you with COVID-19 communication strategies, or any other content needs you may have.

Reach out at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Communicating in the Time of Coronavirus

What are you even supposed to say to someone in a time of unprecedented challenge, uncertainty, and loss? It’s not a rhetorical question; it’s something all of us have struggled with in recent days, fumbling for the right words, sifting meaningful reassurances from clichés and platitudes.

The reality is that none of our words are quite sufficient for the magnitude of a global pandemic. Nevertheless, they’ve never been more essential. We need words now as much as ever as we seek to convey our empathy, our need, our solidarity, and our hope.

We need meaningful, heartfelt words for the people we love. And, businesses and brands need clear, precise language to let their customers and employees know that they, too, are doing everything they can to foster connection and weather this storm.

No doubt you’ve already been flooded with emails from companies letting you know their COVID-19 policies, changes to normal operat

ion, perhaps even ways you can pitch in and help those who are truly struggling.

And if you are a business owner who hasn’t yet found the right words or the proper tone, there is still time. A simple newsletter, email blast, or Facebook post can go a long way toward letting your audience know you’re with them in this time of crisis.

Now’s the time to speak your heart, and what’s important isn’t eloquence so much as authenticity. With that said, we can offer just a few tips on wise, clear communication in the time of coronavirus.

Communicating Amidst Coronavirus

  • The most important thing is just showing that you care. If ever there was a time to just reach out to your customers and employees, without any underlying agenda, just to tell them you’re around and you’re feeling the confusion, too… well, now is that time.
  • Be proactive in articulating key information. Don’t leave your customers to guess about suspensions of your normal services, or abbreviations to your hours of operation. Keep in contact and let people know how your company is handling the coronavirus. Be proactive in communicating any changes as they arise.
  • Consider some options for sacrificial service. What can your company do to make your clients’ lives just a little easier? Whether it’s free shipping or flexible pricing, every gesture is welcome. Note, these gestures might also make it easier for your customers to support you and your business.
  • Inspire action. Something else you can do with your business communications: Provide links or suggestions for ways your clients can help those in need. Send out information about charities or causes that are making a positive impact during this scary season.
  • Audit your current content calendar. If you have any scheduled blog posts or tweets that might come across as glib or insensitive, now might be the time to pull them and hold them for better days.

And in all seriousness: We truly do believe better days are coming. Until then, the Grammar Chic team sends our encouragement and solidarity to all of you. Hang in there. Stay healthy. Take care of each other. And stay in touch.

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What the Coronavirus Teaches Us About Content Marketing

Kind of an odd headline, huh?  I know—I am well aware that it seemed like a stretch when I started pondering recent current events and their correlation to the topic of content marketing.  On the surface (no pun intended, and I have been wiping everything down with Clorox wipes around here, FYI) it might appear that this pandemic and the content marketing practice have nothing in common. However, as I have tried to digest the seemingly constant and ever evolving stream of information that we all have been inundated with, I started to realize something.  Ultimately, the overall handling of the Coronavirus is essentially a lesson in what not to do when it comes to content marketing.

The Handling of Coronavirus is a How-To Guide for Bad Content Marketing

Below, you will find a couple of themes I have noticed as it relates to the communication strategy (or lack thereof) and the “Corona Crud” as I have taken to calling it:

  1. Have you noticed that there doesn’t seem to be anyone actually in charge of the overall messaging? Have you realized that at any given point in time, varied streams of information (as well as misinformation) come at us faster than we can say “Wash Your Hands!”? Indeed, it’s been dizzying to keep up with and hard to essentially figure out what is true and trustworthy (and if it comes from a reputable source) and what is just plain nonsense.

The Lesson: When it comes to content marketing, having too many proverbial scientists handling the petri dish is a recipe for disaster.  It is necessary to put one person who is knowledgeable, confident, and focused in charge and discourage involvement from other people who want to interject their own messaging or create alternate information streams. There is too much room for error in this regard.

  1. Writing for the sake of writing is bad news. And this has definitely been true with regard to Coronavirus. Hearsay and speculation have run rampant; rumors about miracle treatments, secret labs, and even the CDC’s need for men to shave off their beards to prevent the virus from spreading have abounded. News outlets have worked overtime in producing “click bait” articles that provide little new information but attract the attention of anxious readers eager to learn more. At the end of the day, the agencies in charge have struggled to keep up and have even noted that it’s possible that we are facing an “infodemic.”

 

The Lesson: Producing content for the sake of producing content is a terrible approach. In content marketing, the content that is made public should have a purpose and you have to work to control the spread of information that hurts rather than helps. Admittedly, the WHO and CDC have a big job—they are trying to ensure the public has good information, but they have found themselves unable to control bad content leaking and multiplying from other sources (and some of those sources, frankly speaking, come from the very highest levels of our government).

 

  1. Negative associations can hurt your brand. This isn’t so much about Coronavirus as it is about Corona—the beer. There is a lot in a name. And what’s worse than loose associations centered around a name? Ill-timed marketing campaigns that promise “coming ashore soon” at the exact same moment as when the first cases of Coronavirus started popping up on the U.S. Pacific coast.  Yes, Corona (the beer) actually released a campaign like this—just recently—for its hard seltzer.  The company has tried to reinforce that there is no correlation between their beer and the virus, but bad messaging and misinformation, coupled with consumer fear has the ability to hurt the brand.

The Lesson: Believing that an audience will form logical conclusions without your help, guidance, and reassurance isn’t the best strategy.  If something damaging could be associated with your brand—no matter how far-fetched—work to stop the issue proactively and ensure that your own marketing efforts aren’t being used to reinforce an already ridiculous theory or belief. Again, it’s necessary to remain constantly aware of what is being communicated—no matter if it’s coming from you or another source.

A Good Content Strategy Promotes Real Information

At the end of the day, Coronavirus is a serious situation—and people deserve to trust the information that is being published about this virus. The people and agencies who have microphones, global platforms, and Twitter accounts have a responsibility to share truthful and reliable information. There is a great responsibility placed upon the people in charge of a communication strategy to be transparent and knowledgeable about the content they share.  The conveying of misinformation or messages that negates expert advice is not only a disservice to the public, it is unethical—and this is true no matter what your content strategy is looking to communicate or promote.

At Grammar Chic, we fully subscribe to the idea of creating content that goes viral (no pun intended). However, that content must be based on facts, clear messaging, and benefit the end user. For more information, contact us today by visiting www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444.

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Why Hire a Business Editor?

One way you can enhance your company’s written communication efforts—be that business emails, blog posts, press releases, or internal documents—is by hiring a business editor. A business editor is a skilled professional with expertise in bringing clarity and precision to written copy, focusing in particular on the kinds of copy produced in a business context.

What Does a Business Editor Do?

There are a number of specific ways in which a business editor can serve your company. Some examples include:

  • Moving or reorganizing sections of your text, providing a more logical sense of flow and coherence.
  • Rewriting minor sections of the copy, enhancing clarity and understanding, or simply making your arguments more persuasive.
  • Spotting and removing typos or grammatical errors, giving your copy a strong feel of professionalism.
  • Considering your text in light of the target audience and ensuring it’s well-positioned for maximum impact.
  • Alerting you to any industry terms, jargon, or acronyms that readers might not understand. (It’s very easy for business owners to overlook these issues; a second set of eyes is invaluable!)
  • Omitting any repetition or redundancy, keeping your writing as brief, clear, and focused as possible.
  • Ensuring a strong hook and clear outline, which allows your content to better hold the reader’s attention.
  • Assisting you in putting business terms and concepts into more accessible language. (Again it’s very easy for business owners to assume their ideas are clear to everyone. A business editor can inform you when that’s not quite the case!)
  • Sharpening your formatting and your section headings, making the content easy for readers to scan.

All of these services are offered in collaboration with the business owner or marketing department; a business editor will work with you to get your message across, drawing from your ideas but enhancing them with editorial polish.

What are the Benefits of Hiring a Business Editor?

There are some clear perks to enlisting the services of a business editor. Just a few of them include:

  • One of the biggest reasons to hire a business editor is that it enhances trust in your company. When you present copy that’s poorly written, unclear, disorganized, or riddled with errors, it makes you look sloppy or amateurish. A good editor can keep everything tight and clean, really helping you to look like you know what you’re doing!
  • Clarity of messaging is another important benefit. You know what you’re trying to convey to your target audience, but sometimes you may get so lost in the weeds that you don’t communicate with the necessary precision. A business editor can assist you with carefully honed messaging.
  • A business editor can also help you develop a consistent tone and voice for your brand. In other words, a business editor can work with you to make sure all your communications sound like they come from the same place. This tonal consistency can be an important aspect of brand-building.

There are a number of reasons why it can be prudent to hire a business editor. Grammar Chic, Inc. is a long-standing business editing service, with experience assisting entrepreneurs and marketers across countless industries. We’d love to talk to you more about our flexible, customizable business editing options. Reach out to us today and let’s chat: 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

 

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What is a Ghostblogger? And Should I Hire One?

Have you ever had something you really wanted to say, but felt unsure of how to put it into words?

It’s a common feeling in life, whether in the field of relationships, parenting, or business. It’s precisely when you feel strongly about something, when you know in your heart that it matters, that you begin to feel inarticulate; as if, in trying to communicate what’s on your mind, you just wind up tripping over your own words.

For example, business owners often have a particular set of points they’d like to convey about their product, service, or industry; but, whether rightly or wrongly, they fret that they aren’t natural-born writers, and are daunted by the blank page. And it’s not a phenomenon that’s unique to business owners; even authors and in-demand thought leaders sometimes need a hand in shaping their original ideas into legible packages.

A ghostblogger can provide just that kind of help. But what is a ghostblogger, exactly? Our simple definition is that a ghostblogger is someone who’s there to listen to your ideas, to help you shape them into coherent narratives, and to provide whatever wordsmithing assistance you need in turning your thoughts or ideas into compelling digital content.

Why Hire a Ghostblogger?

There are a number of reasons why you might consider hiring a ghostblogger, including the one we’ve mentioned already: You may have much you want to say, but be unsure of how best to say it. The ghostblogger’s primary skill set is taking what seems nebulous or “unsayable” and distilling it into something sharp, persuasive, and valuable.

But there are other reasons why you might benefit from working with a ghostblogger. One reason why a lot of entrepreneurs struggle in content creation is not that they don’t know their field well enough, but that they know it too well; that they are too close to their subject matter, and have a hard time separating the peripheral details from the real crux of the matter. A good ghostblogger can be invaluable in translating something very technical into accessible language or taking all the minutiae of your business and sorting out the big picture.

A ghostblogger is first and foremost a writer, but in some cases working with a ghostblogger may feel like interacting with a confessor, a therapist, or a sparring partner; it all depends on the kind of relationship you’re looking to have. Certainly, a ghostblogger is someone with whom you can talk things through, working together to shape and sculpt fuzzy or half-baked ideas until they become totally clear. Along the same lines, ghostbloggers can be invaluable in helping you identify when a topic may work well as a full content series, or when one really big idea would be better split into a few separate blog entries.

Ghostblogging Offers Clear Copy and a Convenient Process

Indeed, one important thing to note about working with a ghostblogger is that the relationship can be as hands-on or as hands-off as you want it to be. At Grammar Chic, we have ghostblogging clients with whom we spend a lot of time on the phone hashing out ideas together. We have others who simply send us a topic and perhaps a bullet point or two and then give us space to do our thing. It’s really up to the client, and our goal is not only to provide you with excellent copy, but to make the process as convenient and efficient as can be.

As you think about articulating your ideas into a blog format, consider the benefits of hiring a skilled writer to provide your concepts with form, purpose, and shape. Consider hiring a ghostblogger. Learn more by reaching out to Grammar Chic, Inc. today, either at www.grammarchic.net or at 803-831-7444.

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How Can You Optimize Content for Voice Search Queries?

The way people search for online information is fundamentally changing… and that has some seismic implications for content marketing professionals. Arguably the most significant shift of all has been the rise in voice search. These days, it’s as likely as not that a Google or Bing search query will come through a voice assistant (think Siri or Alexa) as opposed to physical typing. Indeed, some studies have speculated that, by the end of this year, more than 50 percent of all search queries will be voice searches.

So how can you ensure that your content shows up in these Siri and Alexa searches? How can you fully optimize to address new search engine user behaviors? Here are a few quick tips from the Grammar Chic team.

How Has Voice Changed the Way People Search?

The first thing to consider is how voice search queries differ from text ones.

Here’s an example. Say you wanted to see some movie showtimes for your favorite Charlotte movie theaters. If you were typing your query into a Google search bar, you’d probably keep it short and sweet: Charlotte movie times, or something similar.

But if you were using a voice search assistant, you’d probably phrase it more like a question, e.g., What are today’s Charlotte movie show times, or what movies are playing in Charlotte?

When developing content, it’s critical to accommodate these long-tail keywords, which can be as simple as writing conversationally; avoiding the “keyword stuffing” practices of the past; avoiding stiff, unnatural-sounding keywords; and, when possible, framing your content in question-and-answer form.

Something else to consider is the reality that many voice search queries are finely-honed and specific in nature. Simply put, most search users don’t ramble on to their voice assistant. They know what kind of information they’re seeking, and phrase their query accordingly. Some examples: Where is the nearest tire store? Or, find a Mexican restaurant near me.

Again, savvy content will address these more specific queries. An FAQ page is invaluable here. We’d also recommend blog posts that are designed to provide authoritative answers to these very particular questions.

Finally, be aware that most voice search queries are localized in nature. If you’re using a voice assistant, it’s likely because you want to find the closest coffee shop, the nearest oil change service, etc., specifically in relation to your current location.

Good content should be localized as much as possible. Include your business name, address, and phone number on each page of your website. Make note of the specific shopping center you’re in or a major intersection that’s nearby. (“Find us at the corner of…,” “we’re conveniently located behind the mall,” etc.) Also include information like your hours of operation, holiday closings, and so on.

Content That’s Made with Voice Search in Mind

The way people search is changing. It’s important for your content creation to adapt accordingly. That’s something the Grammar Chic, Inc. team can help with. Reach out today and set up a content marketing consultation with us. Connect at www.grammarchic.net or by calling 803-831-7444.

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Why Content Marketing is the Best Bet for Your Startup

Launching a brand new enterprise can be plenty exciting, but also a little bit intimidating. Startup entrepreneurs will always face some uphill climbs, and one of the steepest is getting the word out about your business. Building a marketing presence from scratch is not just daunting, but potentially costly; without it, though, there’s little chance of the company ever developing the customer base it needs for success.

Of all the marketing activities available to your startup, there may be none that fit more seamlessly than content marketing. Indeed, content marketing has a few intrinsic benefits that make it ideally suited for newly-launched or soon-to-launch businesses.

Content Marketing and Your New Business

Here are just a few of the reasons why content marketing works so well in startup or new business contexts.

  • It’s easy to scale. One of the most valuable traits of content marketing is that it’s incredibly simple to start small and build from there. You can begin with a small budget, doing a lot of the work yourself, engaging through a few carefully-chosen channels, and expand as your audience grows and your company finds its footing.
  • It’s easy to customize. With something like broadcast TV ads, you wind up paying a lot of money to reach a general audience. With content marketing, you can spend less money to reach a more precisely-targeted audience. With the right data and analytics, you can ensure your content is being directed to the people you’re most eager to reach.
  • It helps you build a brand identity. A new business is sort of a blank canvas; it’s up to you to paint a picture of what the company is and what it stands for. Through content marketing, you can do that, providing thought leadership that exhibits your expertise, your values, and the basic proposition you have for your audience.
  • It’s conversational. Content marketing is as much about listing as it is broadcasting. Through social media, for example, you can generate real dialogue with your audience, then use their comments and feedback to fine-tune your marketing message as well as your product offering.
  • It allows you to earn attention. There’s definitely a time and a place for paid ads, sponsored social media posts, etc. With that said, carefully-crafted content can give you an opportunity to earn shares/likes/retweets/forwards organically, which can in turn help you generate word-of-mouth buzz.

These are just a few of the attributes that make content marketing a smart option for new businesses… so what’s the next step? We welcome you to reach out to the Grammar Chic, Inc. team to discuss some specific ways in which content marketing can help your young business grow. Connect at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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