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.
How to assist is a conversation that is taking place all over the country in nonprofit circles and corporate boardrooms. In situations such as this, large companies that lend their support often benefit from positive media coverage as a residual benefit. At the same time, attempting to jump on the media bandwagon can backfire if the “support” is seen as nothing more than being opportunistic.
Deciding how a company or nonprofit should respond to a national tragedy should be carefully thought out from the first social media tweet to the final decision on what action should be taken. That’s not to say a decision should take so long that your action no longer is valuable, but it is important to take the time to consider how your response will be viewed by the community at large.
At times like these, there is no easy answer or approach, but perhaps we all need to just remember to be mindful, thoughtful and considerate.
Susan R. Miller is founder of Garton-Miller Media, a full-service, South Florida based public relations firm. Susan is a former journalist with more than 30 years of experience. She has two daughters, three golden retrievers and two cats, but just one guinea pig who is happy not to have to share his cage or his daily stash of veggies with anyone.
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.