Brands amid tragic events: A time for perspective

How should companies respond on social media when their followers are focused on a crisis? Should they shut up? Offer condolences? Here are some thoughts.

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Perspective comes first, of course.

When news broke about the school shootings in Connecticut on Friday, the marketing firm where I work had to decide how to advise our clients. There is no single right answer, but there are plenty of wrong ones. Our goal was to actively avoid the wrong ones.

As we saw in the aftermath of the Newtown school shootings last Friday, marketers are still learning how—if at all—to respond when such devastating instances arise.

Here are a few things we can take away from these experiences:

Suspend all posting while you decide your best course of action.

There are some national news stories that warrant going dark. When you’re deciding whether to suspend your brand’s social media activity, it’s best to stop posting. Hold off on all scheduled posts, and get as many key stakeholders in on the conversation as possible.

Weigh the pros and cons of posting. On Friday, my firm had more than a dozen brands with posts scheduled for that afternoon. The pros paled in comparison to the potential cons of posting for most brands, but every company is different.

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