Know When Silence is Golden

Silence is Golden-LRG

Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. – Abraham Lincoln

This was all I could think as I witnessed the stream of posts on Facebook this morning. Today has proven to be a difficult day for many brands. Sharing on social media is touchy, and there is a deep desire on behalf of brands to connect with the day’s trending topic. However, a day a national mourning is not the best time to attempt to capture that Oreo moment.

It’s critical for brands to have in place sensible response models for when disasters occur. Basic strategy includes: consider pulling all planned posts, canceling your advertising, and crafting an appropriate conciliatory message. However, eleven year later, brands are failing to strike the balance between sensitivity and  obvious attempts at getting attention. From Build-a-Bear to Fleshlight (a sex toy for men you need not Google), today has been full of inappropriate and misplaced attempts at patriotic messages that only sought to gain attention.

Many of these have been well documented by Buzzfeed, Mashable, and even AdWeek.

While it can be tempting for your brand to join the conversation as our nation move on from the biggest tragedy in a generation, unless you have something to add, it’s better that you remain silent than to prove yourself a fool.

So… what can a brand do?

For most at this point, it is advised that 9/11 should be a business as usual day. However, an argument could be made for a soft handed reminder for some brands. One post I observed today (from a former client) was by Walker Zanger. A high-end manufacturer of tile, they are influential in architecture and interior design. Their post, embedded below, strikes the right balance of speaking to their audience while offering a gentle nod to the day’s occasion. Rather than the standard “never forget” they stuck a tone of optimism and resilience. The connection is tenuous and it does not attempt to wrap the brand in a patriotic cloak they wouldn’t ordinarily.