How to handle content of sensitive moments like the Paris commemoration.

Yesterday at noon public life stood still for one minute in honour of the victims from the terror attacks in Paris.

After this minute I noticed some posts in my timelines from companies saying they had participated in this as well. And I got a strange feeling about it. Why would you share this with your online fans? Is it a way to show your human face? Or is it the result of the constant struggle to find “good” content?

I posted about my feelings (in Dutch) on Facebook and received some replies, one of them from a hospital that did post a photo of employees and visitors joining each other for one minute to honour the fallen.

And it kept me thinking. Did this cross the line or am I just too sensitive?

AT&T 9/11 Tweet

In the past we have seen some enormous mistakes in content production related to sensitive moments. AT&T had to apologize in public after their 9/11 post and that made sense to anyone. It was just bad taste.

But in this case it is different. I have seen a beautiful taken picture of people during the one minute with the company logo on it. My thought was: why do you want to share that? Someone must have been taking a picture during this special moment. Why?

Yes, it does show that the the people working at this company are sharing their grief. But you can do that in other ways as well.

Safe ways to produce relevant content

You can tell upfront that your staff will join in the minute to commemorate. You can change your profile picture. You can share a nice picture with some nice words or make a photo of the flag half-staff in front of your building. There are a lot of ways to show that you as a brand and your people are engaged without spoiling this special moment we all shared together.

I know companies are in a constant struggle to produce relevant, personal content. The thing is, if you really want to be human, act human. I personally do not know anyone who shared a picture of this moment so why does a brand want to do that? I know the pictures I saw were published with good intentions. But it just felt awkward when I saw multiple pictures from different brands posted at 12:01.

Oh, and by the way. A brand is not human. People are. So if you have a personal story to tell: let your people tell it.

Ludo Raedts