Social Media Frenzy: Should Companies Keep Quiet in the Wake of Crises?

Crisis communication has always been a tricky thing to tackle in the PR world. When a tragedy strikes, companies must be careful about what they post on social media. If they don’t acknowledge the crisis, many people will perceive them as being insensitive. However, if they do post about the crisis it could be misconstrued as if they are jockeying for engagement during the crisis.
Then there are some companies who go too far and turn crisis situations into marketing opportunities. For example, in the middle of Hurricane Sandy, American Apparel sent an email to customers that offered “20 percent off everything for the next 36 hours.” They also added to this email, “in case you’re bored during the storm.” They titled this sale the “Hurricane Sandy Sale” and have gotten a lot of heat on social media sites. 
Obviously, companies are in a tricky situation. They must find the correct balance of social media interaction. There is a fine line between being acknowledging a crisis and exploitation. In this type of situation, companies must be aware of their social media presence and the affect that it has on their customers. Everyone is a consumer, not just of products, but of information as well. In a society where social media seems to be taking over, companies must try to be a bit more sensitive with what they are posting. Eventually, the crisis will be averted and life will go on, but until then, we must all exercise sensitivity during crisis situations and remember the effect it has on everyone.
This guest blog post was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Virginia Laskowski

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