The weekend’s events in Orlando are impossible to process, whether you are following the updates through the personal lens of a mother, father, proud LGBTQ supporter or just a general American who cannot wrap his or her mind around yet another mass shooting.
But as the world stands still for those directly impacted, the rest of us have to go about our normal activities. Doors opened for work first-thing Monday at communications agencies across the country. Client meetings are taking place and new business proposals are humming along.
Yet communications professionals in the PR, digital and social media space are in a unique position, and I believe we have a tremendous responsibility to demonstrate empathy and respect, even if our day-to-day job seemingly has no ties to Orlando.
The seemingly most obvious connection is our daily interactions with the media. With shrinking newsrooms, reporters and producers will inevitably be pulled from all sorts of beats to help write, file and push out stories related to the news. The first 24-48 hours are typically the most critical in the newsroom to cover the national news from every local angle, though it will stretch on longer for relevant beat reporters. Here in Colorado, TV in particular is being pulled to Boulder given that the Orlando shooter’s ex-wife is staying there currently.
A PR pro’s best bet? Use common sense before pitching general assignment editors, producers and news desks in particular. Check out what your targets are talking about on Twitter before hitting send or picking up the phone. If you can, wait a day or two and proactively let clients know the reason for the delay. They should appreciate the fact that you have their reputation in mind as well.
The social and digital realm moves even faster, and if your social team wasn’t taking down irrelevant or possibly insensitive scheduled posts first-thing Sunday morning, you were behind. To the same end, the social universe often rebounds faster. And with sensitivity top-of-mind, a brand can move back to publishing regular content within 24 hours or so.
Curious about whether or not to create #WeAreOrlando content? As a company, you need to sit down together and honestly answer a few questions first. What have you posted after other tragedies or similar events? Who are your primary audiences and how are they personally reacting on social networks? Does any part of the content being proposed feel inauthentic in any way? If the answer is yes, scrap it immediately.
The bottom line: be a human, not a marketer. Create or withhold content through the lens of a friend, mother and father. Hold off on proactive media relations for a day or so depending on the industry of your respective clients.
Be bold in how you stay quiet and responsible on behalf of clients or your brand.