• Sarah Macpherson

From the Pinpoint Team: Crisis Communication Does Not Have to Be One-Size-Fits-All



As we’ve all read in many corporate communications articles over the last several weeks, in times of crisis, consumers seek reassurance, compassion, and problem solving products and services from the brands they trust. While we wouldn’t argue with this simple set of principles, we know that companies can and should do better by tailoring their messaging to the unique personalities represented by their most loyal brand enthusiasts.

Overwhelming academic research suggests that people with different personality traits respond differently to crises. For instance, individuals with high Conscientiousness respond to crises with increased social interaction, problem engagement, and positive reinterpretation and growth. This is completely at odds to individuals with high levels of Neuroticism who respond to crises with acute anxiety and avoidance, while eschewing positive reframing and problem engagement. One message does not fit all, and supporting your audience through an emotionally taxing period requires awareness and diversity of messaging to provide empathetic and thoughtful communication to all.

The Pinpoint team has pulled together the following cheat sheet of guidelines for communicating most effectively with the Big Five (aka “OCEAN”) personality traits during this uncertain time.

Personality-driven communications (cheat sheet):

Openness: Interesting new research has suggested that very open people have a diminished physiological response to stress. This passes the gut check if you recall that open people tend to be more creative and flexible to change (recall that the Facets of Openness are imagination, emotionality, adventurousness, intellect, liberalism, and artistry). Because people high in Openness are naturally more impervious to stress than others, research indicates they are more likely to engage with the problem. When communicating with Open individuals during a crisis, do not feel you need to shy away from the problem at hand.

Conscientiousness: Research indicates that these individuals flock heavily to the coping mechanisms of problem engagement (rather than problem avoidance) and positive reinterpretation and growth. Unlike some other personalities, these individuals will relish communications from brands they trust discussing the health crisis head-on, and they will especially value positive angles. Highlight what your brand is doing to help those in need during these times along with good news and insights.

Extraversion: Social distancing orders and mandatory shelter in place in some states have certainly thrown a wrench in extraverts’ day-to-day life, as well as their go-to coping mechanism in crisis. Help them by filling this void with colorful, stimulating content and personable brand communications that humanizes your brand and makes them feel as though they are connecting with an individual.

Agreeableness: This Factor revolves entirely around the individual’s participation in group dynamics. Those high in Agreeableness frequently rely upon social interaction following a crisis to cope with the psychological effects of the event. Emphasize brand community and collective response to the crisis to effectively communicate with these individuals.

Neuroticism: This audience is more likely to experience acute psychological stress in response to the health crisis and has a tendency to avoid the problem and be angered by thin veneers of positivity. This means that you shouldn’t dwell on the crisis in your communications, neither negatively or over-positively (as it will ring inauthentic).


Pinpoint specializes in revealing the personality traits of your specific audience. Get these insights and more through our Shopper Personality app (Shopify and BigCommerce) or reach out to info@pinpoint.ai to get in touch.