After watching the recent Red Cross swim poster debacle unfold in traditional and social media I found it unfortunate that this 100-year-old organization failed in some ways on a public relations level.
Although the agency was quick with a response and apology, it was lacking that human touch. Rather than put a face and a name to the mia culpa, the letter posted to its website and circulated to the media went unsigned.
Most news headlines read: “American Red Cross” apologizes … In fact, it wasn’t until a few days after the news broke that Executive Director Gail McGovern, via a blog on The Huffington Post website, finally stepped up to the plate, apologizing and assuring everyone that they were doing everything possible to make sure it doesn’t happen again. What took her so long?
The recent tragedy in Orlando that claimed the lives of at least 49 people (as of this writing) at a LGBT nightclub has sparked an outbreak of social media ranging from outrage to the outrageous. Everyone from the LGBT community to politicians to the average person on the street, has (for better or for worse) been able to voice an opinion.
Some are designed to bring people together; others seem to do little more than try to further fan the flames and rip us apart. For companies and nonprofit organizations, the events of the past week also have served as an opportunity to step up to the plate and show support not only in words, but also in action.
Walt Disney, Darden Restaurants and the Orlando Magic, which call Orlando home, have pledged financial support to help those impacted. Jet Blue began offering free flights to the families of shooting victims. Nonprofits also have offered their support with one sending “comfort dogs” from as far away as Chicago and Iowa. Even some Orlando area Chick-fil-A franchisees, whose company president and COO has been a vocal opponent of gay marriage, responded by opening on Sunday to hand out free sandwiches and iced tea to those waiting in line to donate blood. Though a Chick-fil-A company spokesperson has said the decision is being made by individual franchisees and it is not a company edict.
Garton-Miller Media is a full-service, South Florida-based public relations firm. Founder Susan R. Miller has 30 years of experience as a writer, journalist and PR professional.