A Death (or Tragedy) is NOT a Marketing Opportunity

Tragedy, loss, and death are all things that people in general experience on a regular basis. On occasion, larger communities or sets of people will share in a loss or tragedy, such as a natural disaster, terrorist attacks, or even the death of a public figure, as is the case now with the passing of Steve Jobs. When this happens, as a band, organization, website, or other entity it’s perfectly acceptable and sometimes even expected to share your thoughts publicly through your website, facebook page, twitter feed, or wherever else you normally communicate.

Sending out a press release with those same thoughts however, is (in my opinion at least) a blatant attempt to try and exploit the situation in an effort to promote yourself, and is in extremely poor taste. It happens every time there’s a natural disaster, terrorist attack, anniversary of a terrorist attack, or a musician or public figure dies, and it needs to stop. In fact, maybe I’ll just start publishing the emails in full to show everybody how sleazy they actually come across. They usually look something like this:

From: Random PR
To: Random PR List
Subject: [Band Name] shares thoughts on [current newsworthy event]

Content: Hi there, I just wanted to pass on the thoughts of the members of [band] on the [current newsworthy event] for your readers. We think it would be relevant for your site. If you run these quotes, please leave them wholly intact, and please send us a link to any coverage. Attached are the latest approved press images of [band], and here’s a link to additional assets: [link]

[List of band quotes.]

Reminder: [Band Name] releases their new album in two weeks. In addition, here are some links to pre-order the album and to listen to the current single, which is at radio now.

There’s really no way to send out a press release regarding something that doesn’t directly affect you and not look like complete scum, so my advice would be not to do it at all. Again, it’s completely acceptable to share your thoughts publicly, just don’t ask other people to share your thoughts for you.