On October 1, 2017, the world watched helplessly as the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history occurred at a music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. A 64-year-old gunman used nearly 20 rifles to kill more than 50 innocent lives and injure more than 500 others.
One of my clients requested that a press release be distributed at 10 a.m. on Monday, October 2, 2017. He emailed me on the morning of October 2nd telling me he was making some final edits, but I really wasn’t paying attention. I, like the rest of the world, was glued to the live broadcast from Las Vegas. The numbers of those injured and deceased kept increasing by the hour, and the details that emerged were more horrific with each update.
A little before 10 a.m., my client sent the approved final press release… and I wrote him back and thanked him for the release before suggesting that we postpone the press release distribution. With the events unfolding throughout the morning, it just didn’t feel right to send out a press release. Fortunately, he agreed with me, and we decided to wait until at least the next morning. It just wasn’t appropriate to send out the press release that morning.
To be quite honest, sending out a press release is easy. I could’ve sent out the release without thinking about the consequences. That, however, would make me a bad public relations professional. I knew that I personally would get harassed by media outlets for being insensitive in the wake of a tragedy, and with the prevalence of social media – perhaps some reporters would publicly call out my client for sending a press release on this day.
As a public relations professional, my job is to not only promote my clients but to also protect their brands. I’ve learned that you must trust your instincts – even if it means going against what your clients want. I was lucky in this instance because my client knows that I would never do anything without their best interests in mind. At the same time, however, he is my client and I work for him – so if he asked me to send it, I would’ve. That’s my job. Eventually, you learn what is right and what is wrong based on experience, but you also must base your judgment on each individual client. Client relationships should be valued like everyday relationships, and communication helps build trust and rapport between both parties. That way, when unusual circumstances arise, it’s an easy conversation to have and hopefully, your client won’t second guess your instincts!