Where Current Events & Your Business Meet
How to Talk About Current Events in Your Brand’s Content
“Why aren’t you talking about [insert a current event or issue]?”
Whether you’re on your personal or professional accounts, there’s a good chance you’ve seen this question asked across social media platforms.
Maybe you noticed it on a post from
- an entertainment account right after viewing a cool, funny, or cute video,
- someone you look up to in your industry,
- an advocate who has helped you learn about different people’s experiences.
Or maybe it showed up in your comment section.
No matter where it showed up, it may have left you wondering
- why people are being asked to say something,
- whether you should say something,
- or what to say.
If you’ve asked those last two questions, this blog post is for you!
I love a little self-interrogation so before we discuss what you can say, let’s start with why you’re saying it.
Why are people asking for your input?
Thanks to the various algorithms, your posts will show up in the newsfeeds of people who may or may not be a part of your ideal target audience.
This matters because even if someone comments on your posts, that doesn’t mean they were ever considering buying from you.
How you deal with the comments is up to you. Just remember your target audience may be taking notes on how you respond.
Why is this your stance on the event or issue?
If you decide to share your stance, have you done your research? Have you looked at its historical context? Do you understand how we arrived here?
The more information you have the less likely you are to “misspeak” because you don’t know the full story.
But there’s also nothing wrong with changing your mind when you’re presented with new information!
Why are you saying something?
Do you feel pressured by people in your comments? Do you feel like you have to because everyone else is? Do you want to be seen as being on the “right side of history”?
Remember, no matter the current event or issue, real people are involved.
They aren’t just numbers in some far-away (or not-so-far-away) place. They’re people just like you and me with their own lives, families, friends, dreams, goals, needs, and feelings.
They want many of the same things we all want for ourselves.
Keep in mind that although the advice in this blog post focuses on how to talk about current events or issues in your business, you should never “say something” with the goal of
- avoiding being “canceled”,
- promoting your business,
- or making yourself look good.
By now you may be wondering if you have to talk about politics or get political when it comes to your business.
Politics refers to the practice or profession of making decisions for a group of people. These decisions form how a society is run and how people operate within it.
Although we often talk about these decisions as they relate to the governing of a country, state, or city, the practice also shows up in any group where a smaller group of people makes decisions that affect a larger group.
This might include a company, social club, religious group, or school.
Our lives are inherently political so long as other people use politics to make decisions for other people—especially when their decisions aren’t beneficial to the larger group and bring more harm than help.
Also, nothing is truly “off-topic” when it comes to your brand because our lives are more intertwined than most people think.
Instead of avoiding “getting political” or “talking politics”, think about how a current event or issue affects
- how your target audience lives their lives,
- how you or people in your community live their lives,
- how you run your business and act out your values,
- how your industry functions and its impact on the world.
A growing number of consumers want to know whether their money is being used to support a business, organization, or person they’re okay with supporting.
They want to know the people behind the businesses they give their money to care about the things they care about.
And they make buying decisions based on the information available to them.
It’s encouraging to know we’re becoming more aware of how other people experience the world around us.
It used to seem like only activists, advocates, academics, and politicians had a say in these discussions.
The ability to discover information and share it on social media has made these conversations more accessible to all of us.
It’s also made it so that anyone can support a cause they believe in. In many cases that means we can “speak up” with our wallets.
The only problem is the level of conversation, knowledge, and awareness we see displayed on social media is usually not representative of the overall population.
Even without social media, the more we are exposed to an event or issue, the more familiar it feels to us. The more familiar it feels, the more likely we are to believe it’s important to everyone.
And the more we gather information and talk about something, the more we expect other people to do the same.
I say this because whenever someone asks, “Why aren’t you saying something?” It’s implied that we should always have something to say.
It ignores all of the reasons someone may choose not to “say something” like
- not fully understanding what’s going on,
- being directly affected and trying to survive*,
- having their related traumas triggered*,
- avoiding drawing negative attention to themselves*,
- being afraid to offend anyone,
- or not feeling their voice is needed.
*…especially if they’re in a marginalized group.
It also implies that if you don’t say something, you must be on the opposite side or that you don’t care.
Evelyn From The Internets recently posted a great video about why people don’t speak up. Although she focuses on influencers, most of her points apply to entrepreneurs too.
“Saying something” requires us to be knowledgeable about individual current events and comfortable discussing them in a space where people might aggressively disagree with us.
There will always be something happening somewhere.
It’s impossible to know about every event in real time. It’s also impossible to have a complete understanding of every issue.
And it may not make sense to shift all your content to focus on a particular event or issue—unless it directly impacts your target audience.
I hope that relieves some of the pressure you might be feeling when it comes to staying on top of everything going on.
You don’t need to become an expert on every current event or issue.
You just need some tools to help you address them in a meaningful way for your audience and your business.
5 Tips for Talking About Current Events & Issues in Your Business
Accept that people will disagree with you.
For every person in your target audience who agrees with you, there will always be someone else who doesn’t.
They may wonder why you’re bringing politics, race, religion, or “negativity” into your niche because
- it’s not something they care about,
- It’s not their experience and doesn’t seem relevant to them,
- or they’re seeking an escape.
They may have completely different opinions on the same issue.
They may agree with you but have different ideas about what change, liberation, or a path forward should look like.
They may agree with you but react before reading or listening to your entire post for context.
Sometimes people use different language to describe or discuss an issue. Other times people are so passionate about what they know and believe that they’re always in defensive mode.
There have been times I shared my thoughts only to have someone tell me how wrong I was even though it was clear we were on the same “side” of the issue.
In every case, they hadn’t taken the time to read my entire tweet or the others in my thread before pressing reply.
Listen to your audience.
Your audience might genuinely want to know what you think or know. This is especially true if a current event or issue affects your industry or your audience.
Let’s say you’re a travel agent.
You’ve sent tons of clients to the Dominican Republic. A few times a year, you notice a rise in people asking why no one talks about Haiti as a travel destination.
In this case, you can take a look at your existing audience as well as your target audience.
Do they prefer to go places with people who look like them or who are similar to them in some way? Are they interested in places that aren’t the “hot” or typical tourist spots?
Do they know the history (or current situation) of a place to understand why it’s been deemed less safe?
Without putting down an entire nation of people, you can share
- the rich history of the country,
- what’s currently going on there,
- relevant travel advisories issued by the U.S. State Department,
- what the travel advisories mean,
- and even historical (or present) events that led to the situation there now.
You can also share travel destinations with large pockets of people from that country that you feel more comfortable sending your clients to.
In a situation like this one, listening to your audience can help you share your expertise as well as how you keep your clients safe.
Share your (relevant) experience.
Your experience as someone in a group directly affected by a current event or issue is a great way to educate your audience, help them understand the significance, and give them ways to meaningfully show their support.
Let’s say you provide physical and mental health resources to women in your state.
You spend your days
- teaching women how to advocate for themselves,
- training doctors to better listen to their patients,
- And educating lawmakers on the importance of making these resources widely available.
You or your parents are from a part of the world previously affected by events similar to the ones happening in places like Sudan, Tigray, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), or Gaza.
Because of your personal background and professional experience, you know the effects these events have on the long-term health of women and girls caught in the middle.
If you’re comfortable, you can share your firsthand experiences or stories shared with you by your family. You can share data from similar events in other parts of the world.
You can share how people can support women and girls previously or currently being harmed.
You can also share how it impacts women in the U.S. (Remember what I said about our lives being intertwined.)
In a situation like this one, your firsthand experience will always be much more authentic than someone who is rehashing what they’ve read or heard. When combined with your professional experience, it gives you a chance to share your unique perspective and understanding.
Share how you are educating yourself.
It’s easy to feel conflicted about saying something when you’re not in a group directly affected by a current event or issue. You might feel like there’s
- no space for your voice,
- no need for your voice,
- or like you don’t know enough to comment.
Let’s say you’re a business coach.
Your quality of life hasn’t changed but recently you have noticed a shift in your clients’ and audience’s mood.
They’re anxiously trying to navigate ensuring the safety of their family while running their business. They’re frightened by an influx of negative comments on their social media accounts.
And they’re hesitant to speak to you about it because they don’t know whether you’ll validate or invalidate their fears.
You can check out the resources they’re sharing so you can better understand what they’re going through. And then you can share those resources with your audience.
You can share posts from people you’re learning from and talk about what you’ve learned from them. You can also encourage others to support by sharing your actions or the wide variety of actions they can take.
In a situation like this one, you don’t need to repeat what many others have already said. You may not even want to take up space in the conversation.
Instead, you can use your platform as a space to get the word out. Without speaking over anyone, you’re letting your existing clients and potential clients know you care about something they care about.
You’re also helping them feel more comfortable bringing it up to you because now they know you’re less likely to react negatively.
Share how it affects your industry, niche, business, or audience.
Sharing your experience as a professional in an industry directly affected by (or responsible for) a current event or issue is a great way to help people understand what’s going on and what’s being done to fix it.
Let’s say you’re a computer expert and tech YouTuber.
You’ve reviewed, promoted, and received sponsorships from some of the biggest tech companies.
Recently, your audience has been learning about the negative impact cobalt mining is having on the people of the DRC and the environment they live in.
They’ve begun to request product reviews from brands that don’t use cobalt in their products. Maybe they’ve even mentioned boycotting the brands named in a lawsuit from the International Rights Advocates on behalf of 14 parents and children from the DRC.
The brands listed are ones you’ve featured and even worked with.
You can share what you’ve learned about the brands you’ve featured and what they’re doing about their cobalt use. You can share what these brands are doing to support the people of the DRC.
You can share innovations and technologies being developed that don’t use cobalt. You can share future predictions around new technologies as industry leaders and scientists attempt to balance innovation with sustainability.
And for anyone who may not understand why cobalt mining has been so devastating to the people of the DRC, you can also share the human and environmental costs of how it is mined.
In a situation like this one, you can also interview someone more knowledgeable on the history of the region or the use of cobalt.
No matter what you share, lead with compassion and empathy—and don’t make it about you.
That may seem obvious, but I want to share one way I’ve seen people do the opposite. You’ve probably seen it too.
After weeks or even days of viewing and sharing content about a particular current event or issue, they announce that they are overwhelmed and taking a break because of it.
Now I’m a huge advocate for rest and self-care. It’s an important part of keeping momentum going so things don’t get swept under the rug.
Learning about all the awful things people experience can be exhausting. Caring about people you’ve never met while trying to figure out how you can help them can be overwhelming.
Watching firsthand accounts of what’s happening in real time can be traumatizing.
But do you know what else is exhausting, overwhelming, and traumatizing?
It’s being one of the people experiencing that event or dealing with that issue while watching other people slowly back away.
I’m not saying you can’t take a break. I’m just saying if you need to take a break, do it quietly.
When we feel a personal connection with our audience, we often feel like we need to tell them where we’ve been. The truth is, you don’t have to explain that you’re taking a break or why you were gone.
Quite a few people have made breaks a natural part of their content strategy so their audience isn’t confused when they “disappear”—and so they don’t feel like they have to explain themselves.
A true-crime YouTuber I’m subscribed to started taking every 4th Monday off. In every video since setting that expectation, she says, “I’m here for you almost every Monday.”
Her audience, new and old, no longer expects to see her every week.
A gaming YouTuber I’m subscribed to works full-time and has a chronic illness. She’s made it clear that her work schedule changes weekly so no one expects her to livestream on the same day or time each week.
She also speaks openly about her chronic illness so everyone understands why she may suddenly cancel a scheduled stream.
An anti-racism educator and mental health advocate I follow on Instagram has a family, health issues, and other priorities that don’t involve Instagram.
She also frequently draws the attention of people who disagree with her work.
When she’s receiving an influx of hate messages and comments, she’ll share that she is taking some time away.
Then she (or her team) will share educational content that doesn’t feature her face. She also uses this time to uplift the voices of others.
Because she has a team, she’s able to take the time she needs without pausing the work she does.
If you don’t have a team, quietly take a break and come back when you’re ready.
Most corporations practice some form of social responsibility to positively impact a group of people or a region where they operate. Sometimes their goal is to positively impact the world as a whole.
Even if you aren’t a corporation, you can still think like one when it comes to how you address current events or issues in your business.
First, figure out which ones you’re most passionate about.
Next, consider how you can meaningfully support and make others aware of it.
Then, use your brand story to help you make sense of how it relates to your business, how it’s relevant to your audience, and why.