Yesterday was a difficult day for me, both personally and as a marketer. You see, I’m preparing to run my first marathon on Saturday. I also had to post two blog posts and maintain social media for a client. How was I supposed to do my job without compromising myself or my client’s brand?
I’ve lost 35 pounds in the last 6 months in preparation for this. I understand how much hard work and effort the Boston Marathoners put into preparing for their run – one of the most elite, respected marathons in the country – only to have that stolen from them by . . . someone. We don’t know who yet.
On top of that, another content writer in my work space is an avid runner and was following the Boston marathon live when the tragedy occurred. Professionally, the challenge was much different but still very real.
I’m currently taking a class on crisis management to improve my skills in the area, and so it felt like a practical final exam when I had two blog posts and social media updates to run for one of my clients. What do I say in a moment like that? I tried drafting a few different letters to post on the blog offering company condolences.
Nothing seemed to come together. I couldn’t figure out the wording.
Everything I wrote during that moment of tragedy sounded self-serving. Posting something with our company’s interest in mind would come across as inauthentic and, worse, exploitive of a tragedy.
We saw what happened when American Apparel, Gap and Urban Outfitters tried to exploit Hurricane Sandy. I didn’t want to damage the reputation of my client by putting my foot in my mouth.
Then I came across this tweet embedded in an article on Adweek:
If you manage social media for a brand, this would be a good time to suspend any additional posts for the day.
— Scott Monty (@ScottMonty) April 15, 2013
That’s the advice I took, and that’s what felt right for the brand I was responsible for.
If you don’t post anything, you can’t post the wrong thing.
(Of course, sometimes not posting anything can be worse, but in this case it felt like the right decision.)
What Marketers Should Do When Tragedy Strikes
There’s a great article on Social Media Today guiding marketers like myself through tragedies like the one experienced yesterday. It goes through 4 (or 5) simple steps to ensure you don’t make the wrong move and harm your business without realizing it.