With the recent tragedy on the East Coast leaving people without basic comforts and the loss of life it is important to remember that in branding strategy, the needs and moods of your consumers change. Whether you are providing a tangible product or a service it is imperative to stay on top of current events in your target communities. You don’t want present an unconcerned or insensitive message to your audience.
Some “not so common sense” should be used when handing your PR. We can start with Madonna, who received a huge backlash performing in Denver with scenes of gunfire and movie theater massacre. In light of the Aurora Movie theater tragedy it was offensive and insensitive. Hopefully, that was not her intention but someone should have been thinking it through. Or take into account Kenneth Cole’s Tweet during the Cairo riots.
The same negative reaction was received when Gap, American Apparel and Urban Outfitters Tweeted, during the Tropical Storm Sandy, to take advantage of sales if bored during the storm. Obviously, the intention is to draw business but the mention of devastating events rubbed many people the wrong way.
When Tweeting, posting, or other promoting make sure you are considerate of your audience. Of course your business needs revenue but never at the expense of your companies humanity. How should your business deal with disasters in your target audience?
- If your business can provide resources and help in wakes of natural disasters, doing the right thing, is the best thing you can do to bring attention to your organization.
- Acknowledge the tragedy but leave sales or any sort promotional message out of the equation.
- Provide useful, helpful information. Keep your audience informed. (Such as, “The Mayor has issued an evacuation notice in city, state. Take cover and take care!)
- Consider future print campaigns that may already be in progress. If they seem insensitive in retrospect it’s better to pull the plug, lose the money and start from scratch then offend your audience (don’t do a Madonna!)
- If you have something to promote during a tragedy that is only affecting a portion of your demographic it’s best to not mention the tragedy during that online promotion.
If The Gap, Urban Outfitters and American Apparel had just tweeted, “lots of sales tonight”, no one would have thought they were being insensitive. Mentioning the storm, then passing over it with promotion was the worst of the combinations. For a smaller business it is easy to keep an eye on the mood and events surrounding your consumer, but large businesses must consider bi-coastal or even multi-continental considerations in their branding strategy.
For more information on how Witmer Group can help you in your branding strategy, contact us today!