Here on the East Coast we are in the process of beginning to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. During this time we’ve seen some brands make missteps, and others damage their brand reputation by making some truly boneheaded decisions. So as life returns to some semblance of normalcy, it’s worth a reminder on how to (and how not to) engage your audiences during periods of natural disaster or tragedy.
Here are five steps any brand or social good organization should keep in mind when natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy affect your customers and supporters:
- Press pause on all planned initiatives. Pay special attention to any planned marketing pushes, previously scheduled email volleys and social media alerts that may be auto-scheduled to go out over the hours and days during an intervening crisis or natural disaster.
- It’s not about you (or your brand). In times of crisis, efforts at self-promotion are typically not well received, no matter how well intentioned.
- Keep quiet. At the height of a crisis your customers and supporters will likely be intently scanning their Twitter feed, Facebook page and email accounts for messages from friends and family. Sending out brand messaging during the height of a crisis may be viewed unkindly by your target audience.
- Timing is everything. Once a crisis has passed and relief efforts are underway it may be constructive to post a message offering your support to them at this moment of need. Even better, direct your audience to the appropriate relief agencies to make a donation or receive assistance. Keep this type of posting to an absolute minimum. One message may be sufficient.
- Eventually this too will pass. As the lives of those affected returns to normal in the days and weeks after the event, you may begin to start returning to your normal marketing efforts as well. Start slowly. And scale up incrementally.
By following these five simple tips you can save your organization or brand from the mistakes so many others have made – and possibly generate even more good will among your most fervent supporters.