When faced with a tragedy, we are often left with a loss of words. We feel like we need to say something but we just can’t come up with the right sentiment. That’s where the phrase, “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims…” comes into play. Celebrities, news outlets, companies, individuals, and even the Commander-in-Chief use this phrase any time tragedy strikes. So what should you do when making a statement after a tragedy.
The over-use of the phrase, “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims” has left it devoid of emotion or impact and has turned it into the canned response attached to tragedies. It has no meaning or attachment to the tragedy at hand; it is merely something to be said. Make no mistake: the statement you make after a tragedy is part of your marketing because it is part of the humanity of your brand.
Think of the last time you lost someone you loved. You probably heard the words, “we’re sorry for your loss” or “they’re in a better place” over and over. These two phrases have lost the heart of their meaning. They comfort the person saying them but do little to comfort those who are left trying to deal with the loss or tragedy.
In times of tragedy your thoughts and prayers may really be with the victims. You may be thinking about them, you may have a personal connection to them, you may even be praying for them. But your copywriting matters now more than ever. The English language is a vast one, and there are countless other things that can be said instead of the same canned phrase that everyone else is saying. Crafting a statement that is unique to your business makes what you have to say more heartfelt and believable. It also shows that you took the time to really think about what you had to say and didn’t just prattle off some standard response.
Speak the truth. If you or your business has a personal connection to the tragedy, it’s usually okay to talk about that. Your audience will most likely value an open and honest description about how you and your employees are feeling.
What will you do? Many times companies will take action in light of a tragedy. Will you be hosting a blood drive in your parking lot, volunteering your time, donating teddy bears to younger victims? If you are thinking of hosting some sort of event to benefit the victims, now is a great time to share. We’ve all heard that actions speak louder than words. Sharing what you’re planning on doing shows action and a drive to help those affected by the tragedy. You should also take whatever time is necessary to ensure the effort will actually benefit victims. Donate to reputable organizations and make sure the donation is usable in a reasonable time frame.
Say nothing. As a child, we were all told, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all.” The same principle applies here, if you can’t think of something meaningful to add to the conversation – don’t say anything. In times of tragedy, the conversation is already packed with statements and news articles pertaining to the events surrounding the tragedy. If you weren’t directly involved, it is completely okay to keep silent if you don’t have anything meaningful to add. If you were directly involved, a timely statement is necessary and it should also be heartfelt. Taking a moment to pause before immediately addressing your stakeholders will ensure that you’ve collected your thoughts and are prepared to present a statement that shows consideration and thought which will ultimate showcase the heart of you or your business.
On Sunday, October 1st, tragedy struck the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. The unthinkable acts of one man caused the largest mass shooting in modern history. There have been many statements of love and support for those who were impacted by this great tragedy. One statement in particular stood apart from the rest. On October 3rd, the festival organizers issued their statement about the deadly event:
“On behalf of the entire Route 91 Harvest Family, we are completely devastated by the event that occurred last night.
Our deepest sympathies go out to the injured and the deceased and their loved ones. Senseless violence has claimed the souls of our fans and we have little in the way of answers.
Our eternal gratitude goes out to the LVMPD, Emergency services, security guards, and fans for their selfless acts of bravery while trying to help those in need.
While we will try and move forward, we will never forget this day.
We will NOT let hate win over LOVE.
We will NOT be defeated by senseless violence.
We WILL persevere, and honor the souls that were lost.
Because it matters.
– BOC/Route 91 Harvest”
Another company that crafted a heartfelt statement is LiveNation, the promoter behind Route 91 Harvest. Their statement is as follows:
We are heartbroken over the tragedy that took place at the Route 91 Harvest festival. To think that anyone would want to inflict harm on a gathering of music lovers is beyond our comprehension.
And while we are stunned and grieving over this incomprehensible act of violence, we know that this is a moment when we must come together to prevent more tragedies like this from occurring.
Live Nation will do everything in our power to support the victims and their families through the aftermath of this horrendous event and extends our deepest gratitude to the heroic first responders who helped save as many lives as possible. To our Live Nation on-site employees, we cannot thank you enough for your bravery and perseverance over the past 24 hours and will ensure you have the resources and support necessary to heal from this.
In both cases, these companies took the time to write statements that truly reflected their brands. They gathered their thoughts surrounding this senseless tragedy and crafted something beautiful. They honored those lost, those injured, and the brave men and women who acted heroically to help those in need. Nothing about their statements feel forced or canned. These were not prewritten statements waiting in a folder somewhere to be used, these are statements filled with heart and meaning.
Contact our office to learn more about our consultation, copywriting, or full-service crisis management capabilities. We can help your organization in a wide variety of capacities including press conferences, speech drafting, employee training, and customer communication.