Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | March 24, 2020

7 Tips about Writing on Sensitive Topics Online

How your brand communicates about a sensitive topic can make or break your business. However, this doesn’t mean you should forego addressing the topic altogether. Sensitive topics oftentimes aren’t the easiest to discuss, but they’re very important to talk about.

In today’s complex world, brands are often confronted with many difficult questions and situations about how to conduct business during a local, national, or even global crisis. It might be tempting to ignore it and act like everything is business as usual. However, overlooking these glaring situation will only cast businesses in a dark light, potentially destroying their reputation due to their lack of empathy.

Like it or not, it’s essential for brands to take the right approach when communicating about sensitive matters that might impact their customers in any way. Just remember: it’s all about mindful messaging.

Here are some tips on how brands can strategically and carefully address sensitive subjects.

1. Refine Your Brand’s Tone

During “normal” circumstances, your brand’s tone may be comical, fun, witty, or casual. While that might work great in typical circumstances, this isn’t the time for creativity.

Instead, take a step back and shift to a serious, but not quite robotic, tone. Now is not the time to let your brand’s personality shine through. Choose your words wisely as part of an effort to remain informative. Put a pause on any scheduled marketing campaigns, social media posts, and content that can be seen as insensitive. This will allow you to connect to your audience in a civil manner.

2. Be Mindful of Your Audience

Mindful messaging requires utilizing emotional intelligence to communicate respectfully. Sensitive topics are emotionally-charged and can affect different people in a multitude of ways. There is most likely a wide range of emotions and opinions when it comes to the sensitive topic you’ve chosen to write about. Your content will be broadcasted to a wide audience of different ethnicities, age groups, genders, and more. Be sure to consider all of them.

Take some time to think about how this sensitive issue is directly impacting your community and consumers. Acknowledge the emotions related to this sensitive topic by prefacing the difficulties that have been faced with the situation.

3. Stick to the Facts

One of the most important things when delivering information on a sensitive matter is to write the truth. This requires using verified sources. Government agencies and academic journals are reliable sources for reference. Always remember to triple-check these sources to ensure accuracy and credibility.

Chances are there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other people writing about the same topic as you. Stick to the facts in order to remain credible throughout the duration of the situation.

4. Stay Neutral

It’s too easy to leave a trace of our own opinions and bias, strive to be as objective as possible. Keep these questions in mind when writing your content:

  • Are you presenting both sides fairly?
  • Are you using any emotionally-charged language when trying to make a statement?
  • Are you giving each side the same proportion of content?

Credible facts play an important role in helping you use neutral language. They allow you to deliver accurate information without stating your personal opinion. From there, your readers can form their own opinion.

5. Create a Safe Space

Your written work can be a powerful platform for building an open community for storytelling. Bringing light to these sensitive topics can encourage those affected to exchange words of comfort, resources, updates, suggestions, or simply offer empathy.

For some brands, spaces like social media can also provide a comforting open forum for dialogue and let others know they’re not alone. This is a great way to encourage empathy from people, whether they’re affected or not.

However, if you don’t have a dedicated team member to closely monitor and moderate these spaces, proceed with caution. Online conversations can sometimes get spiral into complicated, heated, or controversial areas that could have a negative impact on your brand. Ensure someone’s ready to jump in to reel in any issues.

6. Provide Resources

Your audience may be reading your work to figure out how to navigate through this difficult situation. Including a list of resources encourages individuals who are affected or know someone affected to have a support system. If you’re a multi-location business, try including local resources. Encourage customers to also do their own research to find programs or organizations that can provide immediate assistance.

7. Get Trusted Feedback Before Publishing

Before hitting the ‘Send’ button, always ask several trusted colleagues, ideally with diverse backgrounds, to read and edit your work. Difference sets of eyes can catch anything that may be misconstrued or be seen as insensitive. Having your work proofread by others will ensure you’re sending the appropriate message out.

Writing about a sensitive topic can be difficult, but ignoring it can create an even bigger issue. These tips can serve as a useful guide to strategically address a sensitive topic in a mindful manner.

If you need help reaching out to your customers across multiple channels, such as your online reviews or social media accounts, reach out to one of our experts to see how we can help.