By Katie Krott, WordLab Client Associate
The holidays are around the corner, and brands in Maine and around the country have begun putting together end-of-year messaging materials like emails, newsletters and cards. Visuals are often an essential component – but this year, brands need to be particularly mindful of the messages they’re sending in pictures and videos. Many places are currently experiencing a significant spike in COVID-19 cases, and although pandemic fatigue might be setting in, it’s important to remain aware of the unintended effects visuals can have. Here are three quick things to keep in mind.
1. Stay up-to-date with local and state regulations. Double check that all of your visuals comply with relevant COVID-19 ordinances. For example, if your business is based in a town or city with strict rules limiting the size of indoor gatherings, don’t take a staff photo for your holiday card that flouts these restrictions. It’s not a good look for your brand and could inadvertently lead to fines or other regulatory action. The State of Maine frequently updates its COVID-19 resource center, and many cities throughout the state do the same.
2. Be mindful of masks and social distancing. This can be tricky, especially when taking photos. While taking off your mask and smiling for the camera can be tempting – especially if just for a brief moment – it could unintentionally send the message to stakeholders that your brand isn’t taking the pandemic seriously. The same holds true for social distancing, and it’s especially important to keep in mind if you’re indoors. Be sure that anyone photographed is also wearing their mask properly, as wearing a mask underneath your nose can be as dangerous as not wearing one and potentially send the wrong message.
3. Think about creative ways to set up engaging shots. The pandemic has made us rethink many aspects of communications and messaging, and visuals are no exception. Use the pandemic-driven restrictions discussed above as an opportunity to get creative and come up with outside-the-box ideas. For example, if your brand is planning a holiday donation to a favorite charity, think twice before opting for a traditional photo op like a giant check presentation – even if you were planning to incorporate masks and social distancing. Instead, work with your charity partners to safely get a photo of them in action with just one person, which will be more visually compelling and increase its likelihood of being published in a news outlet.
Take these next few weeks to reevaluate your communications strategy through the end of the year, visuals included. Aim for empathy and authenticity in your tone and be mindful that this holiday season will be different for everyone. Think about the messaging in your visuals and how they could potentially be received – as well as the unintended impacts they could have.