AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising

One-Minute MarketerCOVID-19 and Email Communications

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COVID-19 and Email Communications

If you’re like me, your email is filling up with messages from businesses and organizations. The airlines have been the most active.Delta email

Many seem heartfelt and provide good information, while others seem to be prescheduled or insensitive to the situation. Some don’t even mention the current situation. One I received from a local gym was still talking about a March Madness promotion and featured basketballs. (Sorry, all canceled a week ago.) I received this email the same day the president suggested people avoid being too close. Yet the email offered classes, massages and group activities. Later that same day, the gym sent out a virus-related email — I’m sure people complained. Mac Madness

When I was in TV, the consultants always said, “You can’t gain any viewers during election night, but you sure can lose viewers.” I believe the same thinking applies to disasters like floods and pandemics (unfortunately, I’ve now been through both). You may not be able to gain any new clients, stakeholders or donors, but you can sure lose a few because of poor messaging or insensitivity to the situation.

Communication is the key when faced with challenges. You need to communicate with outside stakeholders, but also with your employees. We suggest a few techniques in these troubled times:

  • Podcasts can be produced and posted without group activities.
  • Facebook Live can still be used for events, meetings and announcements. We did a multi-camera shoot for a fundraising event that had 150 viewers.
  • Video can be a great way to release information, send out notices and talk to your customers.
  • Micro-websites can be put up quickly just to deal with the virus, so you don’t change your entire website.
  • Weekly or biweekly one-page newsletters could be mailed to customers, stakeholders or donors as long as they contain pertinent information.
  • Public service-styled TV commercials (viewership is way up) that talk directly to the audience and acknowledge that you know what is going on and you’re still working hard.

Messaging is critical. Pay attention to everything that is going out to the public, but don’t overthink it and delay too long. Late communications may be worse than no communications — unless you are thinking about running anything to do with canceled events.


Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.