PRWeek: How long should brands stay silent on social media after a deadly crisis?


After a driver allegedly killed six people in a shooting spree in western Michigan on Saturday, Uber shut down proactive social media marketing, except for tweeting a statement offering its condolences. How long should it, or other brands facing deadly crises, stay silent?

aaron square

Aaron Gordon, partner, Schwartz Media Strategies

It’s never a good time to go dark on social media. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Periscope are critical links between brands and the general public. Once a company has its messaging and strategy in place, these channels should be activated with the goal of informing the public, addressing customer concerns, and monitoring the conversation online. Running for cover when times get tough sends a message that there’s no communications strategy in effect and that the company is in damage control.

Uber was wise to communicate its initial statement via social media, but there’s been a drop-off ever since. Rather than flipping the switch, the company could be using its platforms to remind customers and the media about the measures it takes to keep them safe, from conducting driver background checks and tracking driver performance, to providing users with driver profiles in the interest of transparency and allowing friends and relatives to track a car’s location and ETA.

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