Ten Tips for Responding to Tragic Events

In today’s world, bad news travels fast. Today’s consumers expect prompt, proper responses from brands and companies when it’s appropriate. So what should you do when it’s time to address an event such as an act of violence or a natural disaster?

  1. Be relevant and authentic. Post a respectful and brief response as soon as facts become clear. If you post too soon, you risk doing so before the true story emerges. If you post too late, the purpose becomes lost or even worse--you appear to be jumping on the bandwagon. Pay close attention to the timing of your competitors.
  2. Avoid politics and polarizing statements. Most brands want to remain neutral on certain topics. If you post about an event, make sure you do so in a way that is respectful and sensitive.
  3. Do not brand your post. It’s not about you. Many brands have received backlash when they attempted to brand posts about tragic events. When in doubt, drop the image and stick to a short text-only post.
  4. Keep it as simple as possible. While you may feel like you’re repeating what every other brand is saying, there is nothing wrong with a simple “We are thinking of the victims of _________” post.
  5. Be prepared for questions about your contribution. Many consumers will want to know what you’re doing about the events in question--asking about everything from donations to covering bills for victims. Align ahead of time on how you will handle these questions.
  6. Was an employee affected? Have a plan. Sadly, there may come a time when your own employees fall victim to tragedy. When possible, get the permission of the person or their family before using their name or likeness. If the person’s name and image are publicly known already, you are likely safe mentioning that you have them in your thoughts.
  7. Did the event occur on your property or in close proximity? You may want to involve your legal counsel before posting. Be sure to have your response to a potential event prepared and accessible. Advise your employees on how to handle media inquiries and social media.
  8. When in doubt, cancel other posts for the day. It is typically seen as poor form to follow a tribute/thinking of the victims post with lighthearted content. Be sure to cancel or delay scheduled posts.
  9. If you can offer help, do so. If there is a neutral, well-liked charity associated with a tragedy, include the donation information in a post. It is usually positively received when a company uses its platform to seek help for those in need.
  10. When in doubt, don’t do it. If you find yourself second-guessing a post, you’re safer to not publish it. Or, simply ask some trusted colleagues what they think.

Does your company need help creating a social media emergency response plan? Corbus can assist you in establishing your own, unique response to tragic events, emergency situations, and many other potential social media concerns.

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