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Capitalizing on Disaster

Capitalizing on Disaster

Immediately after the horrible bridge collapse in Minneapolis, I began receiving blast emails from PR firms advising me that “experts are wanted” for media interviews. Apparently, we were to apprise the PR firms of our availability, because psychologists, grief counselors, engineers, political analysts, and so on were needed to fill the media requests for commentary.

We were told that our visibility would be greatly enhanced and that rapid response was the key. The firms went on to tell us that they were the best at promoting their clients in the media and gaining publicity.

Perhaps I’m just out of the loop, but I find this akin to the horrible attorneys who solicit airplane crash victims’ families, and who advertise on television that if you’ve ever taken so much as an Aspirin™ and had so much as a hiccup, you could have the basis for a law suit.

People are due recompense for loss. But in the wake of such a tragedy with the deaths of so many so abruptly, is there a need to capitalize on the horror to the extent of mass emails reminding us that we can use others’ misfortune to promote our services and ourselves? I imagine that the TV, radio, and newspaper requirements for commentary will be very well met without emergency calls for expertise. There’s hardly a need to scream the equivalent of: “Is there a doctor in the house??!!”

I find this all repugnant. If someone approaches me because of a legitimate expertise I possess which might help others to understand a situation or cope with it, fine. But to aggressively seek out avenues to promote oneself in the wake of a cataclysm?

Count me out. I don’t need that kind of fame.

© Alan Weiss 2007. All rights reserved.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

Comments: 1

  • August 3, 2007

    I find these bottom feeders to be the scourge — a true blight — of professional service providers. Decency takes a back seat to monetizing tragedy. Most defend themselves with my personal favorite: “Well, someone’s going to do it, may as well be me.”

    I’ve a better idea. Be one of the few that truly travel the high road. Paraphrasing Dr. Peck, “There are a lot fewer people there.”

    Kevin Berchelmann

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