When pitching around natural disasters, think before you act
As many of us are digging out from under trees, pumping water from basements, dealing with screaming kids chomping at the bit to get back to school (Okay, maybe that last one is wishful thinking on the parents' part), it sometimes takes a disaster for common sense to ring true.
Many in the PR community are weighing in now on what is or is not appropriate to be pitching to media about what Hurricane Sandy has done to large parts of North America. Many choose to look at this as just another opportunity for a creative PR campaign.
A recent post on Hubspot titled, "Is Newsjacking Hurricane Sandy Right or Wrong," covered just a few and, it's worth pointing out, took some heat for the post itself, initially. So much so the post was updated.
Some, if not all of those efforts are in as much good taste as a former client, who once suggested to me in light of 9/11, "What if we shipped down 20 or 30 T-shirts with our company logo on it to those working in Ground Zero, wouldn't that make a good media opportunity?"
With that tasteless aside behind us, and as many are pointing out now, there are a number of blogs weighing in on what is and isn't tasteful at present. A few of those blogs are included here, here and here for reference. The same media you may have been speaking to on behalf of clients are now the same ones dealing with what you may be dealing with on the home front - especially those located in the path of the eye in Delaware, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
So, before you pick up that phone, or write the next email, looking to take advantage of some great pitch you have, or idea you have on what would make for an interesting hook on the effects of Hurricane Sandy, sanity check yourself:
- Is anything I have to say relevant to the human disaster that was created? If so, what would I want readers to know? Am I offering support? Relief? Assistance?
- Is there a better way to support what I have to offer? Is a blog more appropriate? Would what I have to offer be better served as a reflection at a later point in time?
- Is there any advice that people dealing with the catastrophe would find helpful to know now. Again, is a blog a better way of communicating? Which is a long way of saying, think before you act.
I am sure the list of questions to answer is a lot longer than the list I created. Most importantly, recognize that as much as PR is about public relations, it's about creating, building, and maintaining effective communications and relationships. Be aware, that many of the people you may deal with on a normal day are dealing with things we all hope never to have to deal with in our lifetimes.
At a time when many can't even begin to fathom what tomorrow brings, do us all a favor, be human, and keep the great ideas relevant. If not relevant, keep them to yourself.