Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston Marathon Tragedy

As I am writing this, the news is on and they are trying to find the second suspect who was responsible for Monday's tragedy. This occurrence which took place was awful and I truly hope that something of this nature never occurs again. Despite its sadness, it is undeniable that the bravery demonstrated by rescuers and those attempting to catch the suspects ensure that this occurrence will forever be remembered as a moment where there was light found in the darkness.

Shortly after the bombing, Google activated its "Person Finder" that had originally been created in 2010 after the Haiti earthquake. The tool allows a person to search for someone's location or give their own location. The main issue with the tool is that Google does not verify the locations, therefore, it is not fully accurate. This tool is a part of Google Crisis Response, which is a non-profit sector of the company.  Additionally, the Red Cross enabled their tool Safe and Well, to allow family members to locate their loved ones. To read more about this, click here.

Many towns in the surrounding area of Boston have been put on lockdown this morning and inhabitants are encouraged to stay indoors. Many younger people, especially students, have depended upon social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to give them live updates on the current situation. Social media has become a vital aspect in times of disaster and although it leads to errors from time to time, its value is indispensable. 

Finally, a recent lesson in my Public Relations Case Study class posed the question: When does public relations cross the line? During Hurricane Sandy, American Apparel encouraged shoppers who were "bored" due to the storm to do some online shopping. Gap also made a similar blunder and appeared to be making light of a very serious tragedy. One would assume that companies would have learned from these mistakes and refrained from tweeting insensitive things after the bombing. However, unfortunately for food website, Epicurious, this was not the case. The company posted this tweet to its followers in the very wake of the tragedy:

Although probably not their intention, the tweets suggest that people's fears can be alleviated by a "whole-grain cranberry scone" or bowl of cereal. Whoever is in charge of this company's social media was obviously not thinking and probably faced serious consequences. At first, the company refused to apologize. However, after constant scrutiny, they finally issued this apology:

Ultimately, I have come to the conclusion that, in times of tragedy or loss of human life, less public relations is more. Companies or brands should simply offer their sincerest condolences and never try to promote their brands during these times. Companies will only succeed in coming off as insensitive and will hurt any people directly or indirectly involved in the tragedy. To read the full article, click here.

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