How to respond to a national tragedy

Show notes:

This week has been a moment in history – but as a small business owner how do we respond on social media and in our marketing in times of national tragedy?

In today’s episode I explore how we navigate these difficult moments and share some tips to help you make a plan.


Becca: [00:00:00] This week in the UK and across the world, we’ve been shocked and saddened by the death of our beloved queen Elizabeth II. Although we knew this day was going to come, I’m not sure we really understood the huge impact it would have on society. There is so much we can learn from her reign and from her example, her devotion to her work, her servant hearted leadership.

And of course her sense of humor as small business owners, it can be hard to know how we react to such huge national events. So in today’s episode, I’m gonna share some thoughts to hopefully help.

I’m Becca Pountney wedding business, marketing, expert, speaker, and blogger. And you are listening to the wedding pros who are ready to grow podcast. I’m here to share with you actionable tips, strategies, and real life examples to help you take your wedding business to the next level. If you are an ambitious wedding business owner that wants to take your passion and use it to build a profitable, sustainable [00:01:00] business, doing what you love, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s get going with today’s episode. If you’re listening to this episode in real time, then hopefully this will help you navigate at this really poignant time. After the death of our beloved queen Elizabeth II. However, there quite often comes national events, things that we don’t expect, terrorist attacks, national tragedies, even the COVID crisis that we just don’t understand how to navigate as small business owners.

I’m hoping that this episode will help prepare you or to come back. If and when these things happen, so you know exactly how we should deal with them. So I’m gonna be sharing with you seven pieces of advice to help you navigate this time here in the UK, and that you can use in the future. So the first thing I wanna say is don’t be hard on yourself.

If you just don’t quite know how to deal with these things as a small business owner, if you think about it, the UK government and the big organizations have been preparing [00:02:00] for the death of our Monarch for many, many years. In fact, operation, uh, London bridge has been practiced over and over again. It’s like a well oiled.

but as small business owners, we haven’t got a plan in place for what to do in this instance. And we can’t just pull it out from the cupboard and, and follow it. Exactly. We’re all making it up as we go along. So the first thing I wanna say is don’t be hard on yourself. If you feel a bit disorientated, if you think I don’t really know what to say.

I don’t know what to post. Can I carry on as usual? Do I need to stop? All of those questions are totally normal. Don’t be hard on yourself. You haven’t had time to prepare for this. And actually, I don’t think it’s as black, as white as a right, and a wrong way to deal with it as I’m gonna explain later on.

So that’s the first thing is if you’re feeling like you’re being really hard on yourself, because you don’t know what to do, don’t be hard on yourself. You haven’t had the time to prepare. Let’s just take it one step at a. The second thing that I wanna share with you about how to [00:03:00] deal with these kind of events in history.

When it comes to dealing with our business is to keep yourself informed and to keep yourself informed with reputable resources. I think this is really important because when it comes to the internet, we know that there’s so much information out there. And quite often it’s difficult for us to know what’s opinion and what is fact?

So for me, I read loads of articles about what’s gonna happen over the 10 days, but so much of it was opinion based and not entirely fact. In fact, I saw three different dates given for the Queen’s funeral before an official announcement was. So the first thing to think about is where are you getting your news information from?

I highly recommend going to something like the BBC, because they don’t tend to put out a lot of opinion information. They tend to just put out the information as it’s told to them by the official channels. So do make sure you’re getting your up to date [00:04:00] information. Don’t get taken in by what other people are saying in groups or opinion, blogs, or even opinion, newspapers and tabloids, because actually it can cause you additional stress.

It makes you feel like there’s gonna be more things happening than actually are going to be happening. And so it’s really important to get your information from reputable sources. This is exactly what I did during the COVID pandemic. Make sure that I was reading what the government were actually saying, rather than everyone’s opinion on what we should and shouldn’t be doing.

So in the event of these kind of crisis, make sure you are going directly to the source to find out the information, rather than relying on what people are saying. People love to cause a stir people love to panic you and make you read and buy their newspapers or read their Facebook posts. So make sure you’re going back to that traditional information.

What has actually been said, what has been said about what can and can’t happen and what is open to interpretation? the third thing I recommend you do. And this [00:05:00] is something that I definitely do is watch the bigger brands, follow their lead. Look at what the bigger brands are doing on their social media. And when I talk about bigger brands, I’m not talking about.

Bigger brands within the wedding industry. I’m talking about national brands. Look at what John Lewis are doing. Look at what, uh, Tescos or Sainsbury’s are doing. I don’t know who you wanna look at, but look at what these bigger brands are doing with their social media channels. Are they going silent? Have they had one day of silence?

Are they posting as per usual? Are they posting less than usual and follow their leads on the whole if you follow the lead of the bigger brands, you’re probably going to. Okay. So don’t be worried about looking at what other people are doing and following their example. For example, last week I went to Lego land and on Friday Lego land was closed out of respect for the death of the queen.

It was just one day after, but by Saturday, everything was pretty as normal at Lego land. When I was there, it was. Open, the only thing different was the Lego [00:06:00] model of Buckingham palace where they’d lowered the mast, which was very poignant and a great way to respect, uh, and pay tribute to her majesty. okay.

Number four is in these times, it’s okay to be genuine and honest with your audience. The benefit of being a small business owner is often it’s you, that’s the business, it’s you, that’s posting the social media. You are the face and the voice of your brand and people know and love you. So it’s okay to be genuine and honest with them.

You know, tell people, I don’t actually know what to say at the moment, so I’m not gonna say. tell people, you know, I’m trying to be sensitive here. Um, hopefully nothing I do is unsensitive, you know, depending on what your relationship’s like with your audience, depending on how your tone of voice comes across your audience.

It’s totally okay. To just be honest with them. I think sometimes coming from a place of vulnerability helps because we can’t pretend we have it all together. I saw this a lot. Um, a [00:07:00] couple of years back when the black lives matter movement was huge and lots of people were posting about it was that people a bit like me in a white privileged position were struggling to know how to talk about it and how to be sensitive.

And actually, instead of pretending, they knew it was really helpful when people said, look, I actually don’t know what to say right now. I don’t know how to be helpful. Um, and I’m being totally honest with you and it’s the same in this situation with the death of the queen or in other national, um, tragedies as well.

Sometimes it’s okay. Just to say, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just gonna do my best and people will respect that more than if you pretend you have it all together, my fifth piece of advice for you is that actually sometimes staying quiet is also an option. If you don’t know what to post, if you don’t know how to be respectful in a time of a tragedy, you don’t know what’s right or wrong.

It’s okay to just go silent. I think sometimes we think that everyone’s [00:08:00] gonna miss us when we go off social media. Do you ever see those posts, which say things like I’m gonna be gone off social media for five days or I’m back after a week away? Well, actually most of that audience probably didn’t even notice, like people aren’t looking at your social media feed waiting for your next post.

Most of the. So it’s okay to go silent for a couple of weeks and not post anything. And then just start again as we were before, not making a big announcement that you are back because most people won’t have even realized that you’d gone quiet. So remember that being quiet is an option. If it doesn’t feel right to you right now to post on your social feeds, then don’t.

You don’t have to post anything. You can just leave it quiet. And in a couple of weeks time, when it feels right, again, just get it going as if nothing has happened, you put way too much pressure on yourself that you have to be consistent. And yes, consistency’s great. But if you stop every now and again, give yourself a little break because it feels right.

That’s absolutely fine. So again, don’t be too hard on yourself. If it feels easier to just let things lie and be quiet, then just do. [00:09:00] The sick thing I wanna talk about, which is a little bit of a boring thing to talk about, but I think it’s important is copyright over the last few days with the death of the queen, I’ve seen all sorts of people, posting images of the queen and drawings of the queen and all sorts of things in tribute, which is such a wonderful, lovely gesture.

The one thing I just wanna remind you of, and to be careful of is to remember that those images are still copyrighted in the same way. When you take place, uh, part in a styled shoot and you share an image and you need to credit the photographer and it’s kind of disrespectful. If you don’t, it’s exactly the same.

In these circumstances. So if you are gonna be sharing images, professional images of the queen, the Royal family, or even artwork, please make sure you are crediting the photographer, crediting the artist, tagging them in your post and making sure that’s clear often, if those images are professionally owned, you [00:10:00] can get in trouble for using them on your social feeds.

Now, obviously we’d like to hope that people aren’t gonna be looking to make money out of this and by finding us and that kind of thing, but it is something you need to be aware of and to be careful of. One of the safest ways to do it is to share directly from an official account. So for example, if you go to the official Royal family, Instagram account, you can share those posts to your own Instagram stories.

And therefore you are not actually taking that picture and using it as your own. You are sharing it and it’s got the original accreditation and everything. On it. So just be careful. Yes. I know you want to pay your respects and I know you wanna market and write things and show things on your Instagram feeds or your Facebook pages, but just remember copyright rules do still apply and you do need to be particularly careful when you’re sharing professional images of celebrities.

And I don’t want any of you to get caught out. If at all possible credit, although again, they [00:11:00] can still say you can’t use their image without paying or ideally share it from an official source so that you’re not taking that image and using it as your own. And then the final thing I want to share in today’s episode is that you just have to do your best.

You can be sensitive, you can be respectful, but at the end of the day, you need to remember it’s your own business. Like I said earlier, there is no right and wrong in these situations. There’s no right or wrong way to behave in this situation. There’s no right or wrong way to behave in another national tragedy either.

We need to watch, we need to learn. We need to be thoughtful and sensitive to what our audience might be thinking, but there is no right or wrong way. Do it, however you want to, if you want to pay tribute, pay tribute. If you don’t, then don’t, if you wanna carry on as normal, then carry on as normal. If you don’t wanna carry on as normal and you wanna stay quiet, stay quiet.

If you wanna put a black [00:12:00] logo on your Instagram page, put a black logo on your Instagram page at the end of the day, it’s your business, you know, your business best, you know, your audience best and you know yourself best. So make sure you do what you think. Is right. Yes. Listen for any official guidelines.

Yes. Look at what other brands are doing and be sensitive, but don’t feel like there’s a certain path you have to follow because everyone else is doing it because there absolutely isn’t often these posts, when we write tributes, come from a place of. Genuine feeling thoughts and emotion. If we try and force that it becomes obvious that we’re just joining in with the rest of the crowd.

So be true to yourself. Be true to your audience and share what you think is appropriate to share at the time when you think it’s appropriate to share. So to recap those seven thoughts that I had for you on how to react as a small business owner, uh, this week after the death of our beloved queen Elizabeth II or in the event of another national or worldwide tragedy.[00:13:00]

And we just don’t quite know how to respond. So number one, don’t be hard on yourself. We are single business owners. We often don’t know what we’re doing and that’s okay. We don’t have the same amount of planning and preparation as some of the big corporations. Secondly, stay informed to make sure you’re looking to reputable sources for your information.

Thirdly, watch what the bigger brands are doing. This is a great practice to get into anyway, in your marketing because they know what they’re doing and they often have bigger. Uh, budgets than we do fourthly. Don’t be afraid to be honest and genuine about how you’re feeling or what you’re doing with your audience.

Number five, remember that? Staying quiet is an option. It’s okay. To just not post anything. If you’re unsure of what to say, number six is be careful of copyright, especially when sharing images of celebrities, uh, or professional images that they may want you to pay to use. And finally just do your best.

That’s all you can ever do. Be true to yourself is your business. You can do it however you want. Don’t let other people [00:14:00] tell you what to do. Just be true to yourself and do what you think is best. I hope you found this episode helpful. If you need any more help and advice, reach out to me this week on Instagram and I’ll see you back next.

Becca xo


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