Tis impossible to be sure of any thing but Death and Taxes
– Christopher Bullock
This quote (similar to one by Benjamin Franklin) has been around for almost 300 years. Three centuries later, it still rings true. Many people spend their wholes lives fighting off death, to no avail. Once someone passes, you want to ensure that they are laid to rest with dignity and respect and that their memory is honored. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some people or organizations try to use death as an opportunity for publicity or to push their own agenda.
PR Daily posted an article by Stephanie Cegielsk talking about this same topic. A blog was posted on a major PR firms blog discussing how healthcare professionals could use Robin Williams death as a platform to talk about mental illnesses such as depression. Suicide is a tragedy that seriously affects family and friends of the deceased. As big of an issue as suicide prevention is, calling Williams death a “carpe diem moment” is not sensitive to those who were close to him.
Even more egregoious than the Robin Williams article is the complete lack of sensitivity shown by AirportParkingReservations.com. The website tried to capitalize on the news that a body was recently found in an airport parking lot. The company sent out a promotional email stating that you could prevent the stress that leads to suicide by using their services. .
The company issued an apology soon after, but the damage was already done. Imagine if the family members of the man found received this email.
Trying to capitalize on someone else’s death is a completely unacceptable public relations practice. When it comes to dealing with death, whether it is a celebrity, stranger or company employee, don’t make the mistake of responding inappropriately. Death may be unavoidable but a PR crisis like the ones discussed above are not.
Katherine will join the team at INK PR upon her graduation in December. To connect with Katherine, visit her blog, follow her on Twitter, @kattals and connect with her on LinkedIn.
Quotes Uncovered: Death and Takes, Freakanomics by Fred Shapiro
Tragedy is not a PR opportunity, PR Daily by Stephanie Cegielski
Robin Williams: The Heart of Comedy by Richard Corliss