Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tragedy = Good PR Opp? I don't think so

Okay. I just couldn't resist jumping in the fray on this one. But I'll be "polite," though I'm not sure it's deserved... I won't name names. Anyway, here's a quick background on what incensed me and my $0.02 on the situation:

There are a handful of companies out there using the tragedy concerning Jennifer Hudson's family as an opportunity to promote their companies. It doesn't matter the method -- social media, traditional PR, etc. -- bottom line: It's in bad taste!

Why haven't people learned from the past? Why haven't they figured out how to handle these sorts of situations? Tragedy does not equal PR. For anyone. At least, not if you have an shred of decency.

Which isn't to say you shouldn't be out in the public eye when a tragedy occurs. It just means there are tasteful ways to be HELPFUL in situations like these versus predatory. For example, when the Virginia Tech situation occurred, there was an organization I'm familiar with that deals with children and mental health. They wanted to know how they could HELP OUT THE MEDIA AND THE PUBLIC during the aftermath. Not how could they get attention for their organization. How they could HELP! That's the right attitude, people.

I advised them that the tasteful response would be to provide information to reporters about signs your child might have mental health issues. Just a nice simple list that reporters could reprint if they so desired that might help out parents who are concerned about whether their child might be in trouble.

So here's my lesson for the day: In the face of a tragedy, don't be self-serving. Put yourself in the public eye only if you can HELP and provide counsel that will be of use moving forward.

Your thoughts? Weigh in.

-- Robin

1 comment:

Marc Hausman said...

Agree with your post completely. A crisis or natural disaster can sure gin up public relations opportunities. The timeliness of the event enhances the news value of a product or service that can help address the crisis.

This window closes quickly, so it is prudent for a company to evaluate how it can appropriately promote its interests when it is most opportune.

However, as you indicated in your blog post, being sensitive to the situation is paramount. I actually wrote about this topic in an article I posted on Gooruze. Here's a link: