Should brands express sympathy in a national crisis?

Of course you shouldn’t try to exploit a disaster to push your product or service, but offering generic condolences to unnamed victims of a tragedy tend to ring hollow, the author asserts.

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Recently a story by Katie Humphrey ran in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about the angst many people face about tweeting or posting on social networks during a tragedy.

Humphrey interviewed me, as well as friends Lisa Grimm and Karl Pearson-Cater. Largely, the article focused on the decisions people face when posting during a tragic event, such as the Boston Marathon bombing or the Oklahoma tornadoes.

In the wake of these kinds of events, virtually everybody participates in some way. Many simply say, “My sympathies to the victims,” or something similar.

Why say even that?

In the article, I allude to the fact that I don’t share my opinions on two things: politics and religion. These national tragedies are an add-on to that list. It’s not because I don’t feel terrible for the victims, but, as Humphrey quotes me: “It’s not because I don’t care. I don’t feel like I have that much to add.”

That’s the rub for brands, too.

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