Q&A with Blake Jackson
Tragedies like the bombing in Boston warrant restraint
Q: What should a company say on social media outlets following a tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombings?
A: It's natural to want to express anger, sadness and other emotions in the aftermath of a tragic event, but companies should be wary of getting too far away from their established “voice” and point of view online. Offering condolences to victims and others affected is probably the only thing, if anything, a company should say online following a tragedy unless the tragedy occurred in a community where the company operates or the company's employees and/or stakeholders are in immediate danger as a result of the event.
Q: Are there any other considerations of which employers should be aware?
A: Yes. When a tragedy occurs, corporate social media and community managers should immediately check their upcoming scheduled posts to determine whether any of the messages could be misconstrued in light of the news. Disabling scheduled posts may be warranted. Companies also should avoid attempting to take advantage of the situation to promote themselves or their product — one of the biggest online sins.
Q: What can people do to help via social media during such times?
A: Over the past few years, many aid organizations, municipalities and first responders have adopted protocol to create Social Media Command Centers in the immediate aftermath of an unforeseen event. Social Media Command Centers offer members of the general public and business community a place to receive updates in real time, pinpoint crisis hot spots and get information on what they can do to help. Where applicable, companies should be monitoring Social Media Command Centers to ascertain how they might offer to help.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER