Twenty two people walked into Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022 and never walked out. That day Ted Cruz, Texas senator, said in an X post “Heidi and I are fervently lifting up in prayer the children and families in the horrific shooting in Uvalde. We are in close contact with local officials, but the precise details are still unfolding. Thank you to the heroic law enforcement and first responders for acting so swiftly.”
These words are no longer enough. After so many tragedies, natural disasters and pandemics, thoughts and prayers are no longer lifting people’s spirits, bringing communities back together, or restoring faith in our country. Even Obama was stumped on what to say after nine people were killed in a church shooting. From a perspective of public relations practitioners, what should we do instead?
The normal formula for mass casualty events seems to be: post about it, visit the site and move on, hoping things will change but in the fast-moving media, none of this keeps momentum. The next time we will hear about it will be in a yearly anniversary Tweet.
“Today, we remember the innocent souls who were lost one year ago at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Our hearts go out to the family, friends and loved ones of the Texans who lost their lives in this senseless act of gun violence,” Texas Senator Borris L. Miles said in an X post.
Our job is to create a mutually beneficial relationship between our clients and their publics, but this language has lately been creating the opposite effect because the words “thoughts and prayers” are used but do not seem to resonate any longer.
I believe that the change needs to come in the form of real action, and not just simply visiting the site, but real action. One example could be helping the people of Maui rebuild after the fires, not just with money. The people under a politician’s care need to see that they are part of the community and not merely available for short-term press events. There is no better way to lift a community’s spirits than to actually be with the community. Instead of short-term press events after tragedies, a longer-term strategy that includes visits and action with the community while grieving and healing is key.
“So nice of Joe Biden to close his eyes, bow his head, and say a 5 minute prayer while in Maui. He really cares, “ said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York state representative, in an X post.
No matter which political party you are a part of, or what side you are leaning towards, the people deserve to have politicians who will do more than sit in an office and tweet.
Do you see a need for a change or do you think that the current form is working?
Kennedy Russell, is a junior at Samford University double majoring in French and journalism and mass communications with concentrations in public relations and advertising. Kennedy is a member of PRSSA, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Black Student Union. She is very passionate about learning and growing in her public relations abilities. She hopes to one day be able to do PR in a Francophone country. You can contact her at her LinkedIn.