Brands and disasters: how to deal

I’ve largely kept mum about all the goings-on in Boston this past week. I’ve been too horrified to do anything but say “oh my gosh” repeatedly and regurgitate what news outlets have been telling me.

And for the most part, I think that staying quiet is what brands should be doing too.

That sounds insensitive, so let me clarify. I think offering up thoughts, prayers and well-wishes over social media is not only an acceptable but also expected way for most brands to react. A quick tweet or Facebook post is all that is necessary, and frankly, wanted, if a brand is unable to donate time or money to relief efforts. It’s respectable.

However, it can also come across as insincere. With all brands saying the same thing, who’s keeping track of any of it? It all just seems so robotic.

The unfortunate truth, though, is that it’s tough for any brand to sound like they really mean what they say, so there’s not much point in saying a whole lot about the matter. But then there are some companies that are just doing it right.

The Chicago Tribune has made me so proud to be from this great city this week. They ran a beautifully simple ad on Tuesday that quickly went viral and followed it up by sending pizzas over to the hard-working Boston journalists. Both were such effortless gestures that demonstrated the Trib’s, and Chicago’s, compassion for the devastated city and showed that, though we may be bitter sports rivals, we’ll always have their back and stand with them as one.

Now THAT is the way to respond to events like this past week’s. Go big or go home.