How to write copy in the COVID-19 era

For a copywriter, 2020 has meant a lot of copy pivots and content overhauls. And let’s not forget about the revisions. So. Many. Revisions. Sure, COVID-19 has been a part of our lives for almost a year now, but that doesn’t mean it has created any sense of consistency. If anything, it has created change, after change, after change. Keeping up with government guidelines, medical advice and society’s adaption to said guidelines and advice has been down right difficult as an individual, let alone as a copywriter.

And it’s not just current copy we’re talking about. While future social posts, OOH messaging and radio scripts are important to modify for the pandemic, it is equally important to do a content review of past copy that lives on your website. If you haven’t conducted a content audit in the last six months, stop what you’re doing and do it now. Go.

If you have, kudos. Then it’s time to focus on your current copy needs.

Here are seven rules for writing copy in the COVID-19 era.

Nothing is perfect anymore.

Whether it ever was is debatable, but we certainly know now that no one had a flawless year so let’s not pretend. If your copy alludes to a tablescape being picture perfect, a wedding going off without a hitch or a child’s birthday party being a dream come true, you’re living in your own dream world. That content just isn’t relatable anymore. Scrap it and start talking about postponed parties, virtual holidays and staying in on Friday nights.

Don’t get political.

Yes, 2020 was political, but that doesn’t mean you should be. It’s polarizing and, let’s be honest, no matter which side of the aisle you fall on, people are just plain sick of it. Keep your copy neutral and, if possible, positive.

Get your facts straight.

This is especially important if you are writing for more regulated industries or healthcare settings that rely on specific guidelines. Keeping our COVID-19 facts straight isn’t always easy as they change rapidly and are not consistent across the country. When posting facts about the pandemic, use credible resources like the CDC and WHO.

Stay in the present.

Reminiscing on 2019 can be painful. Daydreaming about 2021 can feel hopeless. We can’t go back to pre-COVID life, and we don’t know when post-COVID life will arrive. Focus on the here and now.

Be as genuine as possible.

That means avoiding overused phrases like “unprecedented times,” which have lost their meaning. It also means having a more compassionate tone and not taking the pandemic too lightly. We’re all struggling through this year, and to assume anything different is a miss.

Be ready to revise.

Things are changing, and they are changing quickly. It may not feel like it from a consumer’s standpoint, but from an agency perspective, strategies, plans and copy can change on a dime. It’s not always fun, but it’s good experience. Right?

There are no rules.

No one in our lifetime has lived through these circumstances, at least not in the digital age. We’re rolling with the punches right now. Don’t obsess too much on making your copy perfect. Remember, nothing in 2020 is perfect, and it will probably get scrapped anyway.

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