Here at DMA we all had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend soaking up the sun, spending time with friends and family, and of course, celebrating this great country we call home. Over the years we have spoken about ways for companies to use holidays and current events as communication opportunities, but we haven’t examined situations when brands should NOT be present. How should companies react when a national or global tragedy strikes that sends our flags to half-mast? Should fresh produce marketers respond and contribute to this discussion?
We believe there is not a one-shot answer. The answer to this question depends on various details, which are unique to each company. But one general rule of thumb we recommend marketers follow is that in light of a tragedy, initial silence is key. The chaos that consumes social media immediately after a tragedy can be hectic, controversial, and confusing. By pausing your normal flow of communication on social media and maintaining silence, your company will display respect.
While we make it a best practice to offer silence in the event of a tragedy, it is still important to be available for customer service related questions that surface for your brand during this time. If people do reach out to your brand with product or service concerns or compliments, engage and respond as you normally would to ensure that you are upholding the integrity of your customer service practices.
When it comes to transitioning back into your normal communication on social media, we suggest doing so carefully. Keep a close eye on trending topics and note when new hashtags start to surface that give you an open door to start communicating again, usually within 24 to 48 hours. When our national flag remains at half-mast following a recent tragedy, it is a signal that marketers should take care.
Fresh produce marketers are encouraged to establish a process that clearly communicates the company’s process for social media in the event of a tragedy, even those not involving your brand. If and when the plan is put into motion, keep the leadership team informed and reiterate the plan as soon as possible so that everyone feels confident in the approach and clearly understands next steps and the path to regaining normal communication on social media channels.