Over the past two months nearly every brand has pivoted to creating content related to COVID-19.
But few have invested in COVID-19 content production quite like Salesforce. We feel the volume and quality of COVID-19 content coming from Salesforce is among the best we've seen.
This shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise. The Salesforce Blog has been a model of excellent content marketing for years. And Salesforce has an established track record of social responsibility via their nonprofit—Salesforce.org.
We’ve mentioned repeatedly that good crisis communications manage to be helpful and empathetic at the same time. Great crisis communications take a multi-channel approach, and find creative ways to provide value, even if they don’t necessarily relate to the core business.
Salesforce exceeds those standards. And because of this, they provide an excellent framework for other content marketers who want to build their brand during this crisis via content marketing.
“In times like these, relevance wins," says Colin Fleming, SVP of brand, content, and customer insights at Salesforce. "Gone are the days of year-long content plans. We’ve now pivoted our content team towards a newsroom-approach, with shorter-term cycles that focus on being helpful in the moment.”
Let’s take a closer look at what makes Salesforce’s crisis communications work.
A few things stand out about the homepage. First off, there’s a ribbon at the top of the page promoting Salesforce Care—which provides businesses with Salesforce tools and support free for 90 days during the pandemic.
Below that there’s a curated list of content, including a direct link to Salesforce’s COVID-19 data hub. Lastly, Salesforce has added a new category to their top-of-page menu for COVID-19 information. If you scroll over the link, a drop-down menu appears with an exhaustive list of all the different content Salesforce has related to COVID-19.
I mean, look at this list:
We'll go into all the items on this list later. The key takeaway from Salesforce’s homepage is that it’s important to prominently display all of your COVID-19 efforts on the front page of your website, as customers will want to know what you’re doing in relation to this crisis. Not taking this step could make your brand appear as insensitive, or tone deaf.
Leading Through Change
Leading Through Change is Salesforce’s dedicated COVID-19 series. Here you’ll find links to videos, webinars, and editorial content, as well as tools Salesforce has created specifically for COVID-19 (more on these later).
The content hub is arranged with the most recent content appearing first, so that viewers have easy access to the latest information. Over the course of the crisis, Salesforce has published dozens of pieces of content as part of their Leading Through Change series, in a variety of different formats.
Furthermore, each piece of content is unique. Most provide actionable insights or advice from Salesforce senior leaders. Salesforce even got Mark Cuban to appear in a video.
The Salesforce blog also continues to publish relevant content on sales, marketing, customer service, remote work, and more. But Leading Through Change and the Salesforce blog are far from the only places you can find relevant content. On Trailhead, Salesforce’s learning platform, you can find online tutorials on topics like working from home and virtual collaboration.
On AppExchange, Salesforce’s enterprise cloud marketplace, there’s a COVID-19 page promoting apps that will help business owners operate more efficiently during the pandemic. Finally, on Mulesoft, a data integration company owned by Salesforce, there’s even more blog content designed to help business owners mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
“Each company is navigating the crisis in a unique way. Some need advice, some need apps/services, and others need to hear how peers are adjusting their approaches," says Hayley Nelson, VP of content marketing at Salesforce. "We have this mantra of 'always be helping' and we feel an obligation to be there for every step of the journey.”
Salesforce’s multi-channel approach and hard-to-replicate content are a model for how one can create a COVID-19 content strategy leveraging their business’s expertise. Salesforce is sure to only create content that speaks to the core of their business. In this way, they are able to remind customers of their values while also being useful.
Content Spotlight: How to Be Inclusive of Working Parents During Times of Crisis
Let’s hone in on a specific piece of content to get a better understanding of Salesforce's multifaceted approach.
Last month Salesforce Senior Content Creator Isabel Goncalves penned an article titled “How to Be Inclusive of Working Parents During Times of Crisis.” The article provides a first-hand account of Goncalves’ personal struggles parenting while working from home.
She then offers up seven pieces of actionable advice provided by other Salesforce senior leaders. The piece is helpful while also being relatable—lots of us are struggling with managing working from home and personal responsibilities.
It also speaks directly to Salesforce’s target audience—mid-level to senior decision makers.
At the end of the article, Goncalves provides links to additional Salesforce resources that can help readers build upon their knowledge, while also staying on the Salesforce website longer.
Overall, this serves as an excellent example of crisis communications because it’s relevant, useful, empathetic, and highly-targeted.
If there’s one thing Salesforce has a lot of, it’s data—and they’ve leveraged it to make a ton of content. Most of it is provided via Tableau, Salesforce’s data visualization platform.
However, Salesforce uses Tableau in the most benevolent way possible. Through Tableau, readers can track the number of worldwide and domestic COVID-19 cases and deaths. There’s also data on how COVID-19 is impacting the economy, healthcare data (i.e. the number of available hospital beds, areas that are flattening the curve, etc.), data directly from the government, and more.
Salesforce then provides content on how your business can use Tableau for data analysis during COVID-19. All in, this is Salesforce’s most unique and powerful content offering.
It shows how only Salesforce can only provide this level of insight, while also serving customers and prospects with highly relevant data.
“Our recent acquisition of Tableau has brought us a fresh new vision for how storytelling and education through data can really break through," says Fleming. "We’ve been blown away by the engagement with our COVID-19 Data Hub and are energized by the ability to play a role in allowing governments and citizens to stay up to date with the latest information.”
Lastly there’s the B-Well Together series. This is a daily live webinar series in which Salesforce invites experts in the health and wellness space to provide others with advice on how to maintain their physical and emotional wellbeing during quarantine.
Guests have included sleep and wellness guru Arianna Huffington, meditation and health expert Deepak Chopra, resiliency expert Brene Brown, and spiritual leader Krista Tippett.
This is just one more example of how Salesforce is heavily invested in helping employees navigate the realities of COVID-19.
“Salesforce has always been committed to taking care of employee health and wellbeing. The B-Well series addresses the very real COVID-19 difficulties around stress management and work life integration. We then provide practical tips for not just surviving these challenging times, but thriving through them,” says Jody Kohner, SVP of employee engagement.
In our own research into COVID-19 content creation, we’ve found that there are ten distinct topics that brands focus on when they discuss COVID-19: news, crisis management, community/collaboration, impact assessment, philanthropy/support, information/education, operational impact, public health & safety, employee relations, and leadership guidance.
Salesforce manages to touch on all of these topics with their comprehensive COVID-19 content strategy. There’s blog content with expert insights from senior leaders, video and webinar series' with experts from across the business world, data providing the most relevant information on COVID-19, and advice on how to maintain your wellbeing during quarantine.
And all of it manages to be helpful, empathetic, highly targeted, and engaging.
Our research has shown that this approach will allow Salesforce to deepen their relationship with their target audience, and emerge from this crisis stronger than ever. Other business leaders should take notice, and use Salesforce’s approach to inform their own crisis communications.
For more COVID-19 research and insights, visit the Knotch COVID-19 Resource Center.