I’m typically not one to comment here on the blog in the aftermath of a tragedy. There seems to be no words that are adequate to compensate for the loss.
And, as someone who writes marketing tips for businesses, it’s hard to come up with something that seems appropriate for my blog and audience. Normally, I let a day or two pass and then resume business as usual. Which, I think is a perfectly fine way to handle the situation.
But, as a runner who completed my first marathon a mere six months ago, I’m absolutely struck by the catastrophic events at the Boston Marathon yesterday.
I can’t help but imagine the elation of seeing the finish line in sight only to be knocked off course and become injured by an explosion.
I can’t help but mourn for those lost in the tragedy.
I can’t help but ache for the thousands of runners who didn’t get to finish the race after months of training.
I can’t help but feel for the spectators who were supporting loved ones and complete strangers at the race who were caught in the middle of this disaster.
I can’t help but commend the volunteers, police and first responders and everyone who pitched in to help those who were injured.
How should you respond?
In times like this, it’s hard to know the right thing to say or do – whether personally or professionally.
Should you blog today? Should you continue business as usual with your marketing and social media efforts?
And, to be honest, there are no right answers.
But, if you’re looking for ideas of what you can do or ways you can help today – or after any tragedy – here are some ideas:
Ways You Can Help
Donating after a disaster is always a good idea. But, do it because it’s the right thing to do – not to promote your brand. As many have noted, donating with strings attached (i.e. “we’ll donate for every retweet”) is not the best approach.
Thanks to the outpouring of donations, the Red Cross quickly had enough supply to meet the demand in Boston. However, the Red Cross is always looking for blood donors and giving at any time is a good way to make sure the Red Cross is stocked to meet demand in the midst of a crisis.
If you’d like to give financially, consider giving to the Red Cross or donating to one of the 35 charities runners supported during the Boston Marathon. (Hat tip to Sarah Mason for sharing this idea from Chris Guillebeau.)
Following a tragedy, look for ways you can serve others. When tragedy strikes, think, “what can I do to help?” If you look around you, there’s almost always a way you can serve.
For instance, Google quickly created a person finder tool to allow friends and family members confirm that runners were okay. The Boston Globe set up a spreadsheet to help displaced runners find a place to stay. Volunteers helped those around them and runners ran straight to blood banks to donate.
And, this just scratches the surface. There are countless stories of kindness following the bombings. Even the smallest good deed can make a huge difference.
There’s nothing more powerful than prayer in times of crisis. ‘Nuff said.
4. Hug your loved ones.
If it’s one thing I’ve learned from disasters, it’s that it causes us to be even more thankful for our family, friends and loved ones. There’s never a bad time to let people know you care about them.
Last night, I watched as my friend, Margie Clayman, posted kind messages on her friend’s Facebook walls. She just wanted let everyone know she cared. And, when she couldn’t get to everyone, she said this:
“I can’t leave messages for everyone I wanted to tonight. I have this terrible problem…I know too many wonderful people….
Nope, I didn’t make it to everybody’s wall, but I got to tell a lot of people without question how much I care about them, and for me, that is what I needed to do today. I can’t abide these tragedies. I have to believe that love can triumph in this world. But I also know that nothing can be taken for granted. You all can’t be taken for granted. The time I have to tell you I care – it can’t be taken for granted, either.
Throwing a pebble into a pond creates an incredible amount of ripples. Take the love I’ve sent out and send it to other people who might need to know they are cared for.”
I couldn’t have said it any better.
5. Keep running.
As a runner, I think there is nothing better I can do than to keep on running. Next weekend, is the Country Music Marathon. And, I plan to run.
I could cower in fear of another senseless act or I can run to show that I am not afraid. That we won’t let this disaster stop us.
Whether you’re a runner, volunteer, spectator or fan, I hope you’ll continue running too.
Because, after all, runners are persistent.
In the wake of Boston, let’s keep on running. Together.
How do you respond in the wake of tragedy? What are your plans to respond to the tragedy in Boston?