Six things to keep in mind while communicating with video in a crisis

Jonna Ekman


March 20, 2020

June 7, 2023

Man making announcement during a crisis.

The need for information in a crisis is basically endless. Video is certainly the best medium for delivering that information to your audience. The big question is how you can do that without making any mistakes. Let us help!

We are in the midst of a completely unique situation. As COVID-19 is spreading all over the world, the need for information is growing rapidly. We want to know what to do about our children’s swimming practices, what we can do with the tickets for the concert we were supposed to go to next week, if the local store has changed its opening hours – yes, we have questions regarding pretty much everything. 

Communicating with social video is the best thing companies can do right now. We know that video drives engagement and that people really do pay attention to, understand and remember information that has been communicated with video. We also know that social media is where we can reach our target groups, simply because that’s where they spend their time.

So, what do we need to consider when we create videos under these unprecedented circumstances? We have made a list of six fundamental issues to keep in mind.

6 things to consider when communicating with video in a crisis

1) Identify your target group and its needs

To know who you are talking to and why is fundamental when it comes to all types of communication. But if you are to inform people about something – especially concerning a situation that people are anxious about and when there is a lot of misinformation going around – you have to be absolutely certain about this. It’s a big difference between sharing new opening hours with your customers and reaching out to as many people as possible with hand-washing instructions.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Who are we talking to?
  • What do they need to know?

2) Know your role

In general, companies usually have a lot of flexibility in regard to what subjects they can get involved with and talk about; even if it doesn’t concern their core activities, as long as it’s of interest to the audience. But in times of crisis, there must be firm boundaries in place. This is the time to only talk about subjects that are within one’s expertise. Otherwise, it might cause confusion, error and it could even harm people. Let the experts be the experts. 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What is our role in this situation? Is it truly our place to calm people down? Or caution them? (The answer is usually “No, our role is to inform them, and only about our business.”)
  • Are we experts in this field? (If you are not, then leave it to the experts.)
  • Is this subject really about us and our business?
  •  Why are we doing this?

3) Take your video seriously

Video is usually a pretty playful format. But not now. On the contrary, it’s more important than ever to be as clear and concise as possible and to do the necessary research. If you have one minute; make sure that you take advantage of every single second. And avoid being too emotional. Although the video format is great for establishing a personal connection with your viewer, it’s hard to remain informative when emotions take hold of us.

Things to consider:

  • Do the work: do careful research and express yourself efficiently.
  • It’s ok to have a personal approach but remember to put your feelings aside when making an informative video. 

4) Be extremely clear

In this situation, you can be excessively clear in your videos. You can be clear about what you do know and also about what you don’t know. And make sure to include your sources and make your references clearer and more accessible than ever before. Consider adding a note like “this is official information” or “the advice comes from the Public Health Authority”.

Things to consider:

  • Don’t spread any rumors. If you have to share information that you are not 100% sure about, make it very clear (write something like “we are posting updates on an ongoing basis”).
  • Proper references are more important than ever.

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5) Create new material and delete outdated posts

When the information is constantly changing, your communication must do so too. This is the time to create new videos continuously and – which is an unusual recommendation in the realm of social media – make sure to delete old videos. Of course, it hurts when you have to remove a video with 100,000 views, but you really must make sure that you are not holding on to videos that provide false, outdated information.

Things to consider:

  • Create new videos as soon as the situation/information changes.
  • Use time markers, like “this decision was made on Sunday afternoon” or “the current information suggests”. Why not use time markers at the beginning of the video for clarity?
  •  Remove old videos!

6) Sharing is caring

In a crisis, you can ask people to share your video content – more explicitly than you normally would. People are much more inclined to share information that they consider important for others. It’s also very important to share others’ information, especially information outside of your expertise that would be useful for your audience.

Things to consider:

  • Have the courage to ask people to share, both in the video and in your post
  • Tell others if you have done great things and share it
  • If you see others do great things: share, or ask if you may use parts of it
  • When you want to provide information outside of your expertise: share!

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