It seems that breaking news of active shooters is becoming more frequent. The coverage of the recent shooting at Fort Lauderdale International Airport presented a terrifying reality that dominated news cycles all day, with video on loop and viewers’ eyes glued to the TV hoping to gain answers as to what would drive someone to commit such a horrible crime.

However, while tragedies like these continue, brands still haven’t learned the importance of halting marketing efforts during a crisis. The most recent brand to join the club of committing a #PRFail in the wake of a national tragedy is Expedia.

The following e-blast popped into my inbox on Friday afternoon, while news broadcasted up to the minute reports of the Fort Lauderdale International Airport shooting that took the lives of five and injured several more.

expedia

 

There are a few lessons to be learned here and an unspoken code of conduct:

Follow the News

Follow the news. Follow the news. Follow the news. Set phone alerts, Google alerts, keep twitter open, have a news live stream playing in the background.

Whatever it is, brand teams need to know what is happening in the world to determine how it will not only impact their business but also their communications.

Play it Safe, Stay Quiet 

When in doubt, just stay quiet. Hold on all scheduled content distribution. Don’t send e-blasts, pitch media, or distribute that press release – even if it has nothing to do with the crisis.

Brands must remain sensitive. I can assure you that halting all marketing communications for the first 24-48 hours following a tragedy is never a bad idea.

Take Inventory

Following any major crisis, brand teams should take inventory of any content scheduled to go out for the week following – whether it be posts, scheduled tweets, or sponsored posts on social media. By doing this, brands can catch any blunders before they happen and save themselves a possible embarrassment.

Brands have placed too much pressure on themselves to constantly push out content to stay relevant and top of mind, but that is how mistakes can happen. While automated content is important and efficient, it is crucial for brands to also remain sensitive and connected to their customers and followers to earn their respect, maintain their trust and capture their loyalty.