|Less than 24 hours after the Boston Marathon bombing, t-shirts are already up for sale. Some do not mention proceeds going to the victims|
You've planned thoroughly for a campaign, event or launch on a specific day. Everything is well prepared.
You wake up on that day only to find out that an incident of mind-boggling horror has happened, and nobody is in the mood to be jolly.
What do you do?
If the tragedy was like tree rings, the outermost circle is a no-brainer in terms of action:
|Kenneth Cole's tasteful tweet during the mass protests in Cairo|
- Cancel your auto-tweets.
- Don't be clever and use the incident as a chance to get your name out there.
- Pull any ads that, in this situation, may be interpreted as tasteless.
- Postpone any event the only purpose of which is raucous merrymaking and nothing more.
- Push back your marketing campaign for later.
- Put off your press release trilling about a new product launch. I assure you the press' attention is elsewhere.
|Unfortunate ad placement for United Airlines on aftermath of 9-11|
Working your way to the core of the tree gets increasingly tricky.
What may seem crass marketing to you is acceptable to others, and vice-versa.
Still, there is the golden rule:
If you're not going to be actively part of the solution, shut up.
Tweeting your prayers and thoughts out to victims adds to the noise and just makes eyes roll.
Is there anything your startup does that can be of true value? It doesn't have to be lavish; not everyone can fly in earthquake rescue workers and sniffer dogs. For example:
- If you sell software, products or services, donate all or part of the proceeds for that day to victims.
- Put a thoughtful tribute to survivors and victims on your home page.
- If you had a party scheduled for that day, turn it into a fundraising event with all donations going to the tragedy.
- Back off on the informative tweets, Facebook page posts and blog posts that you know very well are subtle marketing.
Most importantly, don't use the tragedy as a PR opportunity to show what a good corporate citizen you are. It's self-serving and tasteless.
How soon can you go back to normal marketing? A good startup will be monitoring sentiment online, closely watching if sales are down or picking up, and connecting with customers and clients.
Exercise sensitivity, view your activities as part of a bigger picture, and respect the time for grieving. Only then can you make the judgment call that it's back to business as usual.