Communications, content and copy writing; Freelance journalism; full stack web development. Northland and Auckland NZ

Communications during COVID – the good, the bad and the ugly, and what we can learn

We can learn from all the experiments in communicating during COVID.

KiwiWords offers communications, content and copywriting mostly for clients in Auckland and Northland. I, Mike Botur, founder/janitor/sponsor, am known for being down to earth – occasionally to the point of sounding borderline casual! – but clients appreciate the straight-up way I tell them which comms I think are helpful and which are a waste of time.

On that note, in my humble opinion, here are the comms I think were a good investment, and the comms which were a waste of budget… 


Extremely successful communications during COVID:

  • Printed mailers directly put in people’s letterboxes, with unmissable yellow and white colouring, nice font, nice paper and constructive messages. There’s no avoiding these. They’re extremely targeted. 
  • Text messages. There’s no avoiding these. They’re short, which the recipient will appreciate, and they’re guaranteed to be read, unlike EDMs
  • Smart businesses are buying intel from Facebook and Google and looking at their databases to understand the different segments of audience and what those segments might want to hear. I have a big mortgage and not much money, so ASB’s been sending me messages telling me it can help with a home loan holiday. Subway has been telling me I can order their sandwiches next week using an app and picking up a takeaway. Basically, the point is, ask yourself: What are the FAQs my audience would really appreciate being enlightened about? 


Moderately successful communications during COVID:

  • Electronic direct emails (EDMs). Sure, the first couple got read, but it all palls with repetition. Your audience is liable to delete your EDM if they’ve been bombarded with these. I suggest the problem is when too many of a similar comm are sent out, people get jaded. People want something fresh, so the only way to keep your EDM fresh if you absolutely must send it is

1) Time your communique so it’s not being sent in the same glut as everyone else,

2) Make it so pithy that the entire communication is delivered in the subject heading, and

3) Give your readers an exclusive piece of information that they can’t get anywhere else.


  • Subaru has sent me a straight-to-the-trash EDM full of fitness tips from *shudder* Art Green* as well as Subaru’s health and wellness ambassador. Subaru’s email names the car battery as one piece of tech you should keep an eye on while your car is in lockdown… except, it doesn’t directly offer any advice. Also, the EDM suggests that mechanics aren’t open for business, whereas the truth is actually they are, so long as the customer is using the vehicle to provide essential services. ps – Guys, I haven’t owned a Subaru for two years, just so you know…


Crap communications during COVID:

  • ATEED has spent a crapload of ratepayers’ money on an elaborate video. The video shows off the splendour of Auckland’s beaches, bush and parks… except the audience are being told by news articles on the same pages that they can’t enjoy the outdoors. The video argues the COVID lockdown is a great time to bond with whanau. Really, ATEED? Like people weren’t doing that before? I suggest the video

1) Doesn’t tell the audience anything they didn’t know

2) Has a mixed message

3) Doesn’t pause to consider that tourists can’t book holidays to visit Auckland right now (poor timing)

4) Delivers a soft, squishy message which won’t change anything in the audience’s life. Sorry, guys. Your brand is already deeply established. Not necessary.

Okay, I acknowledge Papatuanuku Is Breathing went viral, BUT can you imagine if that video launched a month after the lockdown lifted, when people could click through and book a holiday or outdoors experience in Auckland? Much better investment, IMHO. 


*I haven’t been a fan of Art Green since he sold $20 packets of breakfast cereal.  

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