Osama bin Laden’s Death: 3 Elements To Make It a Genuine PR Moment, Not a Backfiring Blunder

Is it wise to turn Osama bin Laden’s death
into a PR moment for your company or cause?

There’s room for much debate on this one, but here’s some framework to guide your decision on this volatile question: can you generate a public relations communication that is fitting, measured and respectful?

Let’s break down those three elements:

1. Fitting

Does the company or cause have a logical tie-in to the events leading to bin Laden’s death? Do they manufacture a weapon or piece of technology that played a role in finding, then confronting and ultimately killing the most wanted man on the globe? Is there some other (less obvious) connection that you can make?

If so, then it’s worth exploring the potential for a PR outreach.

If not, then it might be time to start brainstorming on other fronts.

2. Measured

If you pass the “fitting” test, then the next step is to ensure that you develop a communication that is measured. In other words, resist the temptation to lay it on thick with whatever role you may have played in some component of the mission to get bin Laden.

For example, a company that makes tool kits that go into military Humvees may have an appropriate opening to parlay the death into some kind of news release.

But the focus ought to be on praising those who carried out the objective, with a brief mention of the company’s own, peripheral role in supporting our troops.

3. Respectful

Remember that this is part of a much bigger, indescribably tragic and heart-wrenching story. Thousands of people died on U.S. soil on Sept. 11, 2001, and events flowing from that dark day–including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan–have since claimed the lives of untold (and rising) numbers of others.

Acknowledging that reality in a respectful, somber way ought to be part of any PR communication in this post-bin Laden period.

There is a line between smart and timely PR and unseemly, over-the-top opportunism that can backfire. Much is in the execution, including the choice of words in a release.

Think through the possibilities carefully, select your words wisely and then launch your media outreach accordingly.

For more story-telling tips and training, visit the Inside Edge PR website resources page.

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