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Three Communications Observations the Morning After Tragedy

Three Observations the Morning After Tragedy

I first heard about it on Facebook.  A friend had posted this link to The Atlantic. Initially, the article simply had a couple of lines of text and a few screenshots of tweets.  The site has since updated it to provide more complete coverage.

Senseless killing. Tragic. Incomprehensible.

My first reaction was: this is terrorism.  The last time we had a terrorist attack we went to war for a decade. In fact, we are still fighting it.  However, it’s worth noting, before 9/11, the predominant form of terrorism was from domestic lunatics, like the duo from Oklahoma City.

As of the time of this writing, no suspects have been identified and officials have simply said, they currently do not know.

All we can do is wait and find out.  We can donate money — or blood if you’re in Boston.  The American Red Cross would welcome the help.  I do have three thoughts that occurred as we filter through the posts.

1. Be careful what information you share.

During the first hour or so following the explosions, credible sources were light on information because the facts were uncertain.  The facts are still uncertain. Before publishing tweets, be careful to ensure it’s a fact. Rumors run wild in crisis and spreading false information only creates more noise.

Search Engine Land has a nice round-up of official social media sources from authorities in Boston.  Now, the day after, this is especially important with charitable donations. Before sharing a link to a charity collecting money to help, make sure it’s legitimate.

2. Tragedy often brings out the best in people.

Nothing unites Americans like a crisis.  If there’s good that can come, it’s how readily we put aside differences to help each other at a critical time. The Business Insider has a nice roll-up of a dozen people “being awesome” after the explosions at the Boston Marathon.

3. Brands should tread carefully.

Other than fielding questions, brands scrambled to delete scheduled tweets, and generally, should remain quiet for a day or two. Business promotions can and should wait while everyone’s attention is focused on the events in Boston.

I’m not a fan of brands promoting charities or curating news from the event either. It just strikes me as panning for attention at the expense of a crisis. If you want to curate news, do so from a personal handle, not a business social media account.

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Photo credit: Pixabay (CC0 1.0)

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