Friday, November 2, 2012

Social Media Etiquette During National Disasters by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

In the midst and the aftermath of a storm like Sandy that takes lives and destroys over $50 billion worth of personal and business property, it's hard to focus on business as usual for the rest of us. We may have book launches, contests, and campaigns planned, but it seems awkward (and in some cases, wrong) to promote them as if nothing is happening on the other side of our country--to loved ones, family and friends. Even if we don't personally know anyone in the affected areas, we hurt and ache for them as we imagine what they must be going through and suffering. Millions are still without power and are offline--and grieving.

In times of disaster like this, I believe it is fine to postpone and/or cancel some of the promotional activities you might have planned. Not everything can be postponed or canceled, but if possible it might be appropriate. I saw where one of the online Scavenger Hunts lengthened the deadline for their contest for those in the east who had entered, but were knocked offline. It showed such thoughtfulness of others.

Many posted and tweeted encouraging thoughts and prayers. I'm never more proud of our nation than when we set aside our differences, our personal agendas, and pull together in solidarity to lend support and encouragement to those hurting and devastated by such massive tragedy. Several publishing houses in New York are struggling to reopen and become fully operational in all their facilities.

Earlier in the week Publishers Weekly posted an article detailing the status of publishers who were affected by Sandy, New York Publishing Struggling to Get Back Online Post-Sandy.

The Los Angeles Times posted an article stating that most bookstores survived the storm and will reopen with minimal damage and gave a list of a few that sustained significant damage, such as Powerhouse Arena in DUMBO, Bookstores After Sandy.

The Queens Chronicle opened their doors to two other publishers, including a direct competitor so they could publish their paper - another act banding together. Here is the article on Recovering the Devastation, Together.

While Social Media can be a valuable tool for spreading news in minutes, it can also be a massive web of confusion. A few took advantage of the moment and posted blatant lies and fake photos that others unknowingly shared, causing viral promotion of misinformation. One man even lost his job from posting false reports that were reported by real news organizations as factual news. In a situation like this where the news is being updated in minutes, there is no website where one can go in order to fact check information before sharing it. Man Faces Fallout for Spreading False Sandy Reports on Twitter.

What are your thoughts about Social Media behavior and continued promotion during times like this? Did you cancel or postpone any events? How do you decide what to share and what not to share?


Jackie Rod said...

Thanks for the thoughtful essay on kindness, Jennifer. We can always do more to help those in need--if we try. Be blessed!

Linda Glaz said...

Too bad Mayor Bloomberg didn't read your post before continuing the Marathon.

Diana said...

Great post Jennifer. The links are very insightful and have added to my prayer list.

Maybe the Mayor of New York read this post- he has since canceled the marathon. Hopefully those that are scheduled to fly in can strap on a volunteer apron and help out.

Praying much for all concerned.

Anonymous said...

Linda - there's alot of things too bad about Bloomberg, but reading Jennifers posts could only help.

Max Lewis

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Thank you, Jackie, hope you are doing well.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Linda, I was surprised he had not canceled it, but I did where he canceled it later. Personally, I think it was the right thing to do.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...


I'm glad you enjoyed the other linked articles. There is so much post-clean-up needed that I think people tend to forget about the hard grueling work after the media moves on to other news. These people will be picking up the pieces of their lives and trying to establish a "new" normal for several more months.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Thanks, Max!

Anonymous said...

I did register for a webinar that was postponed because of Sandy. I was not upset about it, but relieved to see that businesses are considerate to others in that way. Good to know it happens in other places too.