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Business Q&A: Tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing warrant social media restraint

Blake Jackson, vice president of digital at Saxum, discusses online corporate protocol following tragedies like the Boston bombings.
by Paula Burkes Modified: May 9, 2013 at 5:12 pm •  Published: May 10, 2013
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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.

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by Paula Burkes
Reporter
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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