April 6, 2020

COVID-19 Social Media Guidelines: First, Do No Harm

Having a social media plan is more essential than ever during a time of societal disruption. It’s a good idea to scale back regular posts to not appear tone deaf to the coronavirus crisis and to review all previously scheduled content to ensure it has an appropriate tone. It does no harm to momentarily pause social media efforts while conducting audits and market analysis. But if your organization is attacked on social media, should you respond? Consider whether you risk inflaming an issue or could be revealing sensitive information better delivered privately. Are you telegraphing your priorities by responding to certain issues and not others? And, most importantly, are you being genuinely helpful? We recommend creating a Response Matrix to determine precedents and methods for responding, such as:

  • Tier 1 – Reactively correct misinformation or rumors incorrectly published by influential or credible sources that would cause potential harm.
  • Tier 2 – Proactively engage detractors with a large public following, such as industry leaders, customers and media, but consider whether it’s best to engage publicly on social media or directly via a pre-existing relationship.
  • Tier 3 – Constructive response doesn’t apply to “the noise” – everything else.

Coronavirus and Race Could Be An Emerging Issue

Race and socioeconomic status have not been a big part of the national discussion around coronavirus yet, but some of the trends beginning to be emerge suggest the topic is likely to become more difficult to ignore. Axios finds low-income families and communities of color are being hit the hardest by the outbreak. Pre-disposition to underlying health conditions and disparities in access to adequate healthcare have been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. Many individuals who were working in low-paying service industry jobs have been laid off and have lost access to healthcare coverage. Additionally, the achievement gap threatens to widen as schools move to online courses. Time notes students in rural and low-income households with less access to computers and internet could be left behind if the government or private companies do not bridge the digital divide through broadband subsidies or lifting data caps.

COVID-19 by the Numbers


The United States hit a grim marker today with more than 10,000 deaths due to COVID-19

Outbreak Could Spark Surprise Billing Legislation

Surprise billing, when patients get large unexpected medical bills even if they are insured, was a hot topic among lawmakers before the COVID-19 pandemic but could be getting new congressional attention amid the pandemic. Patients are receiving unexpected bills for getting coronavirus testing, and there are reports the White House tried to get surprise billing into the third coronavirus relief package. The administration announced Friday that under the recent stimulus bill, hospitals will be paid to treat uninsured COVID-19 patients but won’t be allowed to send those patients any additional bills. Insured patients, however, could still receive unexpected bills. This raises the question of whether surprise billing could make a comeback and be included in the next legislative package. Before the outbreak, numerous congressional committees had been working on varying solutions, some favoring hospitals, physicians and other providers and some favoring insurers, employers and consumer groups. Many policy questions that existed before still remain, especially how insurers pay out-of-network providers and whether arbitration will be allowed. While those issues haven’t yet been resolved, COVID-19 could push Congress to finally act on this long-debated measure.

Life Down Under Turned Upside Down

The global nature of the coronavirus outbreak will give us a range of government policy responses to watch to see what’s most affective to contain the damage. For example, Australia is taking an aggressive approach to both prevent the coronavirus spread and rein in unemployment. The $79 billion Wage Subsidy ‘JobKeeper’ package provides a $900 payment every two weeks to any full- or part-time employee, regardless of their income, who works for any company that has lost at least 30% of revenue. It’s expected to provide for almost half the country’s workforce of 13 million and is designed to maintain a connection between employers and employees during what is being called a six-month national economic “deep freeze.” Economists predict this will significantly lower the forecast unemployment rate of 17% caused by COVID-19 down to 9% in June. Australia has paired the aid with a forceful national lockdown that restricts entry to citizens who are also required to stay in quarantined hotels for two weeks. Social distancing laws outlaw gatherings of more than two people from outside the primary household, and major beaches like the tourist friendly Bondi Beach are closed.

Field of Streams

Americans’ eagerness for more sources of socially distant entertainment has suddenly transformed streaming from a disruptive and experimental business model into a necessary offering for the film industry’s success. While domestic box office hit zero for the first time in the industry’s century-long history, Nielsen reported an 85 percent increase in streaming with Americans taking in more than 400 billion minutes during the first three weeks of March. With theaters closed indefinitely, studios have been forced to delay many blockbuster theatrical releases, among them Top Gun: MaverickWonder Woman 1984In the Heights and the live-action remake of Mulan. Companies like NBCUniversal and Disney have prematurely pushed new releases, including The Hunt, Emma, Frozen 2 and The Invisible Man, to video on demand, a trend that may continue with some of the summer and fall’s most anticipated releases. In the next two months, three highly anticipated services are scheduled to launch – NBCUniversal’s Peacock, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and Quibi, a short-form, “on-the-go” mobile video platform. We’ll be watching closely to see whether the hunger for content translates into subscriptions.