Sometimes social media silence is best

19 Dec

Following the tragic Newtown shootings in Connecticut last week, which has left America mourning, brands have continued to make light of the situation with insensitive gestures.

This isn’t uncommon. Recently I blogged on GAP and American Apparel’s misfortunes during the New York hurricanes. Amidst the disaster, both retailers thought sales were the answer and encouraged users to stay indoors and do some shopping.

What’s worrying is that brands aren’t learning the basic ‘dos an don’ts’ even after bloggers hang them out to dry.

This time around there’s been a series of mishaps.

Cerberus Capital Management
Private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, the maker of Bushmaster firearms – the gun that killed 27 people, had to pull a marketing ploy that referred to ‘avoiding eye contact with tough looking fifth graders’.

This links to Brad Phillips’ viewpoint on the PR Daily that it’s about time people stopped their prescheduled social media updates and campaigns during crises such as this to avoid foolish mistakes.

Since the shooting, Cerberus Capital Management has announced that it plans to sell the arms firm it bought in 2006.

Dansko
As highlighted by blogger Alex Judd, US footwear maker Dankso posted this on its Facebook page:

“…sometimes it’s the routine of everyday life that keeps us moving after a tragedy. You grasp for the familiar, the little things you take comfort in, even if that’s simply wearing a favourite pair of shoes and taking one step at a time.”

After a series of abuse from fans, it promptly pulled the comment and moved on without apologising – a pet peeve of mine.

Celebrity slip-up
Former Coronation Street and I’m a Celebrity star Helen Flanagan has made headlines for all the wrong reasons – re-posting an image of herself holding a gun to her head as the first Newtown funerals took place.

Helen has since turned the tables on her enemies, claiming the papers are bullying her after her ‘brainless’ tactic.

I’m not going to add to the comments Helen’s been receiving. But I will say, for brands and celebrities alike, there’s nothing wrong with social media silence in the aftermath of an event that has shaken the world.

If you can’t say anything appropriate, don’t say anything at all.

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