This week, media is offering countless stories to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. On Sunday, it’s safe to assume that will kick into high gear.
But, how does that translate to social media? If you manage social channels for a brand — your own or your clients’ — you may face a sticky situation … something that requires a thoughtful, well-intentioned approach.
How should brands acknowledge and/or commemorate 9/11 via social media? This topic was part of this week’s PR 2.0 Chat (#pr20chat on Twitter) discussion, sparking lots of debate. To continue that dialog, let’s think this through …
First, decide if it’s appropriate for your brand to tie itself to the anniversary. Then, ask yourself again if it makes sense. The 9/11 anniversary is a very sensitive subject, so if your brand appears in any way to be leveraging the situation for commercial gain, be prepared for potential backlash.
If you decide to somehow commemorate 9/11 this weekend via a brand’s social media assets, keep this bit of advice in mind, from the wise Justin Goldsborough:
The tough part is that you can’t just look at intentions. You have to judge how actions will be perceived, which really is PR’s job. [paraphrasing this tweet]
If your company has decided it wants to do something to commemorate this weekend’s anniversary, there are a number of options:
- Post a simple message to honor those who lost their lives.
- If someone in your company was directly tied to 9/11 (eg part of the rescue effort) — and if that person is comfortable talking publicly about the subject — share their story via blog or video post. But, be very careful and respectful. Fine to honor the police, firemen and volunteers who helped. Not so fine to shill your services.
- Share links to volunteer opportunities to encourage people to participate in the “National Day of Service” component.
Some other ideas and feedback from #pr20chat participants:
What’s your take? How will your company or clients acknowledge and commemorate 9/11? What do you think is appropriate? What’s not?