COVID-19 Editorial Style Guide

You’ll find guidance on:

  • Voice, tone and readability
  • Language that counters stigma
  • Official disease and virus names
  • Trending terms that may be confusing or tricky

Need help updating already published content? Review our quick tips for content governance during a crisis, or reach out to Geonetric’s expert healthcare writers for assistance.


Download our Guide

Use Empathy to Guide COVID-19 Home Health Care Marketing

Follow our COVID-19 communications pointers for strategic, empathetic messaging in your website content and other marketing assets.

  • Affirm availability of home visits. Reference trusted and credible sources, such as AARP®, that encourage continued services with increased precautionary measures.
  • Answer common questions. What concerns are your home health caregivers hearing from patients and their family members? Use those questions to generate ideas for your content marketing assets and other communications.
  • Communicate when and how patients with symptoms of or potential exposure to COVID-19 should inform your organization. Instruct your patients not to wait until their provider comes to their house for a visit to inform them.
  • Explain how your policies have changed due to the virus. Emphasize new and existing safety protocols that prevent the spread of infection, such as frequent hand-washing, wearing of masks and gloves, between-visit disinfection, checking staff and patient temperatures, and other practices.
  • Highlight the benefits of your services. Your organization’s home health care providers play a vital role in the well-being of your patients and their loved ones. Many patients who receive home care have health conditions that put them at higher risk if they get the new coronavirus. Support from home health providers can keep patients safer and healthier at home, prevent trips to the emergency room that could lead to exposure, and provide reassurance to anxious loved ones unable to visit in person.
  • If any services have moved online, give clear and detailed instructions on how patients can access their providers via virtual visits or phone calls. Cover how patients benefit from check-ins with their home care providers. Explain the specific services a provider can offer electronically or by phone, such as safety assessments, management of chronic conditions, rehabilitation services, emotional support, and more.
  • Share the firsthand experiences of your patients and providers. Stories about how your organization has adapted services due to COVID-19 and what patients are experiencing may be picked up by local media covering the pandemic. Telling your provider’s stories can also create greater empathy and understanding for the processes you’re putting in place to face this illness. These stories can help prospective or current patients feel more comfortable with home health services.
  • Review the hours and contact information listed on your website,  location profiles, and Google My Business listings, and update them if needed. If your hours or other business information has changed, make sure your content accurately reflects these changes, to prevent patient confusion or frustration.

Voice & Tone

In all your communications during this challenging time, make compassion the centerpiece of your messaging. There will be a time for more traditional marketing when the threat of the pandemic passes. What’s always true — yesterday, today, and tomorrow — is content that recognizes its audience’s emotional state and responds to it with a positive tone and helpful solutions not only leaves readers feeling more at ease, it can increase brand loyalty.

Your Source for COVID-19 Digital Support

Check out Geonetric’s free COVID-19 resources or contact us today for content strategy and development services and SEO support.

Tips for Using Social Media During COVID-19

More Eyes on Social Media

During a public health crisis like the COVID-19 virus pandemic, people want to learn how to stay safe and healthy, and how to get care when they need it. Many are turning to their local hospitals and health systems for that information.

In fact, a Geonetric consumer survey, 33% said their trust in their local health system has increased or strongly increased during the pandemic.

Part of where this information seeking and trust is happening is on social media.

According to a New York Times analysis, social media, in particular, has seen a rapid increase in use during the social distancing, shelter-in-place, and self-isolation of the pandemic. More specifically, Facebook has seen a 27% traffic increase in desktop users and a 1.1% traffic increase in Facebook app users.

Answer Your Audience’s Questions

Social media gives your team a direct-to-consumer channel to engage audiences. Tools like Facebook and Instagram let you use images, videos, stories, and text-based posts to connect in real-time with people who have questions and concerns you can address.

As you engage your audience on social, keep an eye on the trending questions and concerns from your community, such as:

  • When to wear a face mask or use protective gloves – and how to use them correctly
  • Where testing is available
  • What common symptoms are
  • Healthy foods to make from pantry basics
  • How to exercise safely and effectively when quarantined

Questions coming from real people also open doors for other content marketing for your audience, and provide a supportive, educational perspective that people need.

If you aren’t sure what to post, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has created a free social media toolkit with copy, images, and infographics to share with your followers.

Lend an Empathetic Ear — and Voice

During a crisis like this, your community and colleagues are facing uncertainty and anxiety. This puts you – as a healthcare marketer – in a distinct position to guide, educate, and help. In times like this, it’s more important that you act as a neighbor, not as a brand.

Beyond sharing health and wellness tips, evolving updates, and other newsworthy information, you can foster empathy with social media marketing by sharing stories inside and outside your walls, including

  • Donations and gifts to your staff and front-line clinicians
  • Celebrations of your colleagues and patients in the hospital
  • Stories from doctors, nurses, and staff who are helping your community
  • Stories from patients and families

Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, shared photos of staff wearing donated masks across their social channels. The posts also linked to their website for more information about making donations.

Delivering Content with Empathy

The language and images you use in your posts are important to your audience. Engage tips on how to write for the web and use social media, and apply them to your posts:

  • Write in plain language and avoid jargon
  • Keep posts meaningful, write in the present tense (if possible), and use short paragraphs to make the posts easy to read and scan
  • Use empathetic images – even if they’re stock photos – that avoid anxiety and convey empathy and healthy tips
  • Cross-link to relevant content on your website, such as blog posts or content marketing, service line pages, or your crisis resource hub
  • Make posts actionable, to lead people to helpful information or next steps

Strategize Your Social Media

According to a study from Sprout Social, the optimal day and time to post vary by platform. It’s important to note that these recommended times to post on social platforms are based on pre-pandemic circumstances but can be used as a good benchmark to begin with and optimize as times proceeds.

Such benchmarks can help you reach more people by posting on the right channel at the right time – and take advantage of specific features and tools.


For the healthcare industry, Facebook sees the most engagement on Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to noon. The typical business workweek also gives reliable times for engagement from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Facebook implemented features for business pages to publish business hour updates and service changes. As Google My Business and Bing Places have done, Facebook lets businesses make updates including:

  • Making temporary closures
  • Offering online classes
  • Offering telehealth services


The best time to post on Instagram for the healthcare industry falls on Tuesdays at around 8:00 a.m. Incorporate trending crisis-related hashtags, such as #flattenthecurve, #stayhome, and #quarantineandchill, into your content in an appropriate and tasteful way.

Use Instagram to provide educational content that points viewers to your website for up-to-date and credible information. Don’t shy away from using Instagram to share inspirational content to give viewers that glimmer of hope they need.


Top times in the healthcare industry to post on Twitter are on Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Other weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. have also proven to show reliable engagement.

Twitter recommends using images and videos to attract users and reach a wider audience. Consider using threads for status updates and restrictions that just don’t fit into Twitter’s allotted 280-character posts.


With LinkedIn’s target audience being primarily professional users, the best times to post occur during the workweek, Tuesday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, LinkedIn has increased efforts to assist organizations and communities dealing with the impact of the pandemic, including offering free job postings. This service — available through June 30, 2020 — receives additional promotion from LinkedIn to highly relevant candidates through the “Urgently Hiring” job category.


The best time to post on YouTube falls during weekdays from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Views tend to peak during the weekday evening hours, so by posting in that window, you’ll have plenty of time for your video to be processed and indexed by Google.

Optimize your videos with accurate titles, descriptions, tagging, and transcription. When possible, include relevant keywords in the video title and description to attract search users.

Video content that is educational, inspirational, and helpful is a great resource for viewers.

Monitor Your Social Traffic

Posting on optimal days and times is a good starting point for any organization to engage on social media. After you’ve built a solid foundation of followers and engagement, check your channels’ insights and analytics.

These data points help you analyze when your page’s target audience is engaging most with your content. This strategy is especially important to utilize during the COVID-19 virus. With limited data right now on optimum times to post, it’s more important than ever before to look at your own social media metrics. Take these findings and adjust your schedule and content calendar.

Social media marketing metrics you should measure fall into three primary categories:

  • Audience – Shows gender, age, location, and other demographic information to help you determine who’s engaging with your content
  • Content – Allows you to spot patterns in engaging and less-engaging posts, including link posts, images, videos, and text-based posts
  • Engagement – Provides benchmarks to gauge performance, including likes, comments, clicks, shares, views, and more

You can typically find this information through each social platform’s insights/analytics tool.
Tools like Google Analytics and UTM parameters aid in tracking how social media drives traffic to your site. UTMs allow you to tag links to track which social platform is bringing the most visitors and how those visitors are engaging with your site.

The Most Important Thing is Empathy

Your social media presence can be a source of relief for some or a source of hope for others. Take your position in times like these as an opportunity to connect with your community beyond providing care in your clinics. This is a perfect chance to extend empathy and provide outstanding support during a difficult time for everyone.

If you’re not sure how to set up your social media analytics and tracking, or you need help building social posts and campaigns during the pandemic, reach out to Geonetric to get started.

COVID-19 Healthcare Consumer Survey

The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially changed daily life. To help healthcare marketers across the country better understand how this new reality intersects with people’s healthcare experiences, Geonetric conducted an online survey of 600 internet users across the U.S. The surveys were completed April 3, 2020.

Learn how COVID-19 has affected consumers’ decision-making around healthcare as well as how they are responding to different types of communication from health systems. See data on how COVID-19 has:

  • Impacted consumers’ decisions and plans around seeking care for non-COVID-19 concerns
  • Changed content topics consumers want to learn about
  • Affected content format preferences by age segment
  • Impacted consumers’ trust in their local hospitals and health systems across different demographics


Download our White Paper

6 Tips to Improve Email Communication During COVID-19

Your health consumers need information from you right now. Whether it’s details on symptoms, treatments, telehealth, making masks, how to clean their home, protecting their families, making donations … the list goes on. And they need information from a source they can trust – you.

You’re probably creating some of this great content, but are you emailing it? People are turning to their inbox now more than ever. According to research by Paved, open rates were up 15% worldwide through March.

As you get ready to hit send and share vital information via email, here are six tips to make sure you are being as effective as you can in this new landscape.

#1: Test What You Think You Know

Ask any email marketer (experts at Litmus and MailChimp included) and they’ll tell you – email marketing best practices are changing and changing fast. For example, your old send times and days may not be the most effective anymore, now that many people are working from home and looking for information from experts at different, more varied times. For example, according to WorldData, before March, 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. was the best time to send email, but from March 20 to April 1, that time has moved to 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

WorldData Chart on Email Open Rates by Hour

Also keep in mind is that although your instinct may be to stop email communication, people are turning to their inbox now more than ever – they want to hear from you there. It’s important to keep your communication cadence, while paying attention to your analytics to make any needed adjustments.

#2: Use the Words Your Subscribers Are Using and Looking For

Pay close attention to the words your subscribers are using on your site as well as Google Trends data and keep an eye on the changing use of words that are making an impact in the broader email landscape.

For example, using COVID-19 is not recommended in subject lines of emails. Not only are users burnt out after all of the commercial emails providing “A Letter From Our CEO on COVID-19,” but also there’s already spam being spun up utilizing that term. Using this term scarcely in subject lines and instead using terms like Coronavirus, pandemic, epidemic, etc., will help you avoid getting flagged as spam. This is just one of the new terms that you need to pay attention to trends on. Resources like are a great way to check on recent trends and help you improve deliverability and open rates.

#3: Consider Asking Your Subscribers What Information They Want

Believe it or not, surveys are also popular during this time! Users want to understand how they’ll benefit from giving you their time to take the survey more than ever. So consider asking your subscribers what information they want from you and make it clear that their feedback will inform the details you’re sharing with them.

If you already have a regular newsletter, consider reaching out to those subscribers and asking them directly to complete a short survey about the types of information they’re looking for you to share. Maybe your subscribers are burned out on hand-washing information but they want to know how to stay mentally healthy while at home. You can use their responses to plan your content marketing mix to meet those needs and send out new, requested content to your subscribers.

#4: Don’t Forget to Segment

Segmentation has never been more important for your email subscribers and you. Your new and expectant mothers, for example, have totally different needs than your foundation donors. Meet each of your audiences where they’re at and provide the information they will benefit most from hearing.

For example, if you do have an email segment for your foundation donors, consider telling them how donating now directly impacts your ability to address COVID-19. Whether it’s funding PPE or making sure there’s little to no interruption of care, this audience will want to know how their contributions are helping in this challenging time, and it may even spur them to give more.

#5: Reassure Your Subscribers

As a healthcare marketer, compassion is probably top of mind for you frequently. That’s more important now than ever. Language, images, phrasing, it all goes into reassuring your subscribers that, while taking COVID-19 seriously is necessary, we’re in this together and we will find a way through.

One way you can do that is providing content that helps them make the best of their new normal. Consider stories on topics like:

  • Options to get exercise and staying fit at home
  • Meal planning for healthy eating
  • Tips for cooking together with kids
  • Ways to reassure kids during COVID-19
  • DIY tutorials on making masks for personal use or donation
  • Ways to safely donate blood

You can address the new needs of your subscribers and assure them they can rely on you.

#6: Share Your Reasons to Celebrate

Have you been seeing success with treating COVID-19 cases? Are you recognizing your hard-working frontline staff? Has your community made generous donations of meals or PPE supplies? These stories of connection and encouragement are all happening, despite how hard things are right now. Take the time to recognize and celebrate all the wonderful stories happening in your community and share them with your subscribers, too.

Use Email to Engage and Connect

Email is an important part of your crisis communication plan. As you create new content for your social and website platforms, don’t forget to use email to connect and engage with subscribers who want to hear from you.
Do you need help figuring out your email mix or want some help reviewing your email plan? Or are you just getting started with email marketing? Contact Geonetric and get support from our experts.

Health Consumer Needs During COVID-19: Survey Results and Discussion

Join us as Ben Dillon, Chief Strategy Officer at Geonetric and David Sturtz, Vice President of Business Development at Geonetric, discuss findings from the survey.

In addition, Joy Weller, Manager of Digital Media and Marketing at EvergreenHealth (Kirkland, WA), Christina Peaslee, Executive Director of Marketing Communications and Content Strategy at Cape Cod Healthcare (Hyannis, MA), and Darren Moore, Digital Content and Brand Manager at LMH Health (Lawrence, KS), will be joining us to share how their organizations are tackling COVID-19 communication on the web and what are the next priorities for their teams.

Watch on-demand and learn:

  • What COVID-19 topics consumers want to hear
  • What formats they prefer for engaging with content
  • What information sources health consumers trust
  • How well consumers are navigating changing care options and opportunities around telehealth
  • How this data compares to real-life communication strategies at play at organizations like EvergreenHealth and Cape Cod Healthcare
  • What healthcare marketers are focusing on next

5 Steps for Moving Birth Care Classes & Tours Online

Advantages of Virtual Birth Care Education

When you provide your birth care classes and tours online, your health system and community will benefit from the convenience and flexibility of this format. Find success with online courses that let your patients learn from you where and when they want. Learn how to create virtual classes that are timeless and impactful.

1. Become Adaptable

In a public health crisis, being adaptable is critical. The COVID-19 outbreak makes in-person maternity classes impractical, or even impossible, for an unknown period of time. The ability to change to meet the demands of your environment keeps you relevant and enables you to make a positive impact in your community during a difficult time.

Be an adaptable healthcare system by being resourceful. Use your website to deliver the knowledge of your maternity experts to your patients — instead of asking them to come to you.

2. Think Long-Term

Make videos that will outlast the COVID-19 pandemic. To produce effective and timeless videos:

  • Avoid time stamps – Do not reference current events, dates, or fads. Stick to the core purpose of each video to preserve your videos.
  • Avoid trends – Encourage your instructor to dress in a classic style that looks professional now and will still look professional 3 years from now. Avoid patterns, logos that can become outdated, and fashion statements.
  • Focus on your messaging – Follow the topics you typically address and answer questions that come up the most in an in-person class.
  • Break it up – Grab and keep your viewers’ attention by putting the most important information first. Then cover one topic at a time. Keep each point short and simple.
  • Accommodate your viewer’s pace – Use titles in your videos to allow people to easily pause and rewind as needed.
  • Keep it simple – Speak using an active voice. Use words your audience understands and explain any technical terms.
  • Use visuals – Help your audience understand and remember by demonstrating best practices. Encourage your viewers at home to give each exercise a try.
  • Make it accessible – Include closed captions to accommodate all audiences.
  • Include a call to action – Invite your viewers to continue engaging with your healthcare system by giving them a relevant next step after they finish a course.

3. Build an Engaging Online Library

You do not have to create online options for all of your classes at once. Prioritize the classes that fill up first. Progressively build your online library to allow people to explore topics that are relevant to them. Assemble a collection of courses to cover:

  • Advice for grandparents
  • Breastfeeding benefits and tips for success
  • Cesarean birth
  • Comfort measures, including breathing and relaxation techniques
  • First aid for newborns and infants
  • Newborn care
  • Navigating the first year of parenthood
  • Postpartum care for mother and baby
  • Tips for expectant parents
  • What to expect during labor and birth

Virtual Maternity Tours

Offer a virtual tour of your birthing center to build trust and awareness online. Make your video memorable by showcasing why families should choose you for their delivery. Create warmth by using happy families holding their babies with supportive and compassionate nurses nearby. Use images that help people envision themselves or a loved one having a positive experience at your center. Include a step-by-step look at everything families may experience, including:

  • What to bring to the hospital
  • Where to go when you’re in labor
  • Your care team
  • Birth center amenities
  • Maternity rooms
  • Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and team
  • Breastfeeding services
  • How long families can expect to stay
  • Going home with your baby

In your video, include testimonials from families that can serve as ambassadors for your hospital. Include clips from your care team on why they love what they do.

4. Promote Your Online Library

People are continually searching for a source of information they can trust. Get the word out about your online library and encourage people to visit it by:

  • Featuring your classes in your blog
  • Playing clips of classes in the offices of your OB-GYNs
  • Promoting online courses on your social media platforms
  • Running a digital ad campaign
  • Sharing it with your internal team
  • Using email marketing

Continue building awareness by including ways to promote your videos each time you revisit your marketing plans.

5. Connect With Your Viewers

Create a place for people to submit questions and comments. You will gather valuable insight from your viewers by reaching out to them directly. You may learn:

  • Common questions your videos are not addressing
  • Concerns families have
  • Parenting trends
  • Resources people are looking for
  • Topics that interest expecting parents
  • What sets you apart

Use this feedback to iterate your existing materials or to create more videos and resources.

Make an Impact

Stand out as a resource people can turn to anytime they need information. Focus on what people need to know and how you can best provide that information to them through your virtual classes.