Yesterday morning, as is often the case, the voices of NPR crept into, and then influenced, my dream. I was in my apartment in Chicago (an apartment from four years ago) and woke up to the sound of bombs and gunfire. I looked out the window and saw flames out my window, coming from the floors below. I reached out blindly and in vain for my eyeglasses, and couldn’t find clothes to put on so I could get out. I was paralyzed by my fear and my dream state.
Which is fascinating because just the day before, I had said to P that the terror in Paris doesn’t scare me. It won’t keep me from going to Paris, next week if I needed to. He called bullshit on me. Well, of course, if there is gunfire, I’ll be terrified. But that could happen in our grocery store in this town. That thought doesn’t keep me from going grocery shopping. It therefore won’t keep me from going to Paris.
Obviously, the world is on edge and it’s changed the conversation. And now we are changing our profile pictures, and becoming self-proclaimed experts on foreign policy. We all want to say our piece, some of us more respectfully than others. We all have questions. There are statements of peace and solidarity; and of hate and misinformed opinions. Just the other day, someone posted that they have not yet formed an opinion and so have not yet said anything yet. As if this person’s opinion has been anticipated which as far as I know is not. He’s a dentist.
It’s hard to know when to engage or not. We all think we’re more right than the other person and should we stop and “educate” so and so why his opinion is “wrong?”
Which brings me to the question of how a brand should handle their communications during time of crisis or tragedy. It’s hard to sit back and let everyone talk about something and not be a part of it. We think it’s important to issue a statement. That by being silent, we are uncaring.
If your brand has something of real value to bring to the conversation, yes, get involved. If you have a direct or indirect connection and can help or inform, it makes sense to say and do things. If you just want to say something because you think you should, sit back, stop. Your audience isn’t anticipating the next meme or hashtag you post to. Your prayers, while appreciated, do not need to be shared on Facebook.
Want to show respect? Pause any scheduled posts and modify scheduled content if need be.
Here’s an example of an inappropriate addition to the conversation.
A brand I love sent this out in an email the morning after the Paris attacks.
This doesn’t seem like a good time to make luxury purchases so the net proceeds (NET proceeds) go to the victims. Why not just give 100 percent of that disposable income direct to to victims? See what I’m saying? If people want to buy a Louis Vuitton bag, that’s fine. I take no issue with that. This message, on the other hand, is simply disingenuous.
I’ll leave you with a filter to test your own situation.
Before you hit publish ask yourself:
- Does this reek of self-service? Are we seeking to profit from the misfortune of others?
- Are we truly adding value or we simply trying to get attention?
- Are we in some way connected to the situation that we have a responsibility to inform or raise awareness?
Please, don’t add to the noise. It doesn’t look good on you.[ssba]