5 Rules For Exploiting Tragedy - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile
Commentary
4/20/2007
04:23 PM
Richard Martin
Richard Martin
Commentary
50%
50%

5 Rules For Exploiting Tragedy

And the award for The Crassest PR Pitch I received this week in the wake of the Virginia Tech slayings goes to … Sam Sims, of Jones PR in Oklahoma City! (Take a bow, Sam.)

And the award for The Crassest PR Pitch I received this week in the wake of the Virginia Tech slayings goes to … Sam Sims, of Jones PR in Oklahoma City! (Take a bow, Sam.)In his pitch, Sam started out with "In light of Virginia Tech's lack of notification, …" thus not only blaming the university but also compressing the death of 32 students (and one gunman) into the real issue: "lack of notification"! He also managed to toss in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the Oklahoma City bombing, all within the space of two paragraphs, to get publicity for "cell broadcasting" technology.

Now that's flackery.

PR people wishing to take advantage of major tragedies, natural disasters, and the deaths of large numbers of people are serving a useful business function -- who among us didn't think, in the aftermath of the Blacksburg massacre, "I wonder what this means for critical real-time mobile messaging services at the nation's institutions of higher learning?" (Nathaniel Eberle, of the Racepoint Group in Waltham, Mass., did -- and he began his pitch with the classic, "Today we are as a nation looking for answers to Monday's events.")

But if you're trying to exploit a tragedy for free publicity, there are a few simple rules to follow:

  1. Don't be obvious. Wait until at least the second paragraph to mention the connection to the late unpleasantness.
  2. At least be touting a product that has some connection to the events at hand, however tangential.
  3. Don't insult your audience. Trying to push a blatant exploitation pitch as important news related to this week's disaster doesn't work. Trust me.
  4. Avoid fake gravitas (see Mr. Eberle, above).
  5. Better yet: Don't do it. Hit erase. You'll feel better for it.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
News
Top 10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2021
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  11/13/2020
Commentary
Where Cloud Spending Might Grow in 2021 and Post-Pandemic
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  11/19/2020
Slideshows
The Ever-Expanding List of C-Level Technology Positions
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  11/10/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
Video
Current Issue
Why Chatbots Are So Popular Right Now
In this IT Trend Report, you will learn more about why chatbots are gaining traction within businesses, particularly while a pandemic is impacting the world.
Slideshows
Flash Poll